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Housing Minister Margaret Beckett has announced proposals to allow Councils to keep from renting and selling homes. At the moment all of the rent money is pooled nationally as a three qauerters of the proceeds from right to buy legislation. The measure sounds like a localist one but you always have to read the small print with this Government. It is to "encourage" Councils to build new housing. What if they wanted to do something else with the money? Such as paying off debt? Or improve existing stock? What if, for instance, they sell off some empty properties and use the proceeds to to bring other empty properties up to a habitable state?

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