Idyllic rural and coastal towns in Devon and Cornwall could be picked clean of council housing after George Osborne said expensive social houses should be sold off.
The Chancellor indicated local authorities should sell their most valuable property when they become vacant, and use the money to build cheaper homes.
Housing in desirable pockets of the Westcountry are much in demand, and social properties in prime locations would likely pique the interest of wealthy second homeowners.
But the move risks forcing local people on low incomes out of the area if replacement social housing was built miles away.
The cap limiting the amount councils can borrow to build new homes will be increased by £300 million, it was announced yesterday, to get 10,000 new properties constructed nationally.
But part of the bidding process to access the extra money will involve authorities demonstrating they have disposed of high-value property when it becomes vacant.
Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter, said: “Forcing local councils to sell council houses is madness. We need more council houses and affordable homes.”
Some in the region have already expressed doubts about the policy even if housing was moved within their own authority area.
Councillor Michael Hicks, deputy leader of South Hams District Council, said housing associations its oversees are already able to sell their stock to deal with “asset management problems”.
He added: “Generally speaking, the funds received through such sales are used for other social housing developments. We would be concerned if that process caused a movement of social housing stock from specific areas of our district.”
A spokesman for Cornwall Housing, which manages housing stock on behalf of Cornwall Council, said: “Cornwall is a very rural county with small communities in some remote coastal areas and if social housing is sold off in these areas, it is very unlikely that it will be replaced.”