London's population has been on the up since it hit its low point in 1986. In 1981 Inner london had a population of 2.4 million - and in 2011 it had gone up to 3.2 million - a 33% rise (and continues to rise). - so that's almost a People used to avoid the 'inner city' In particular much of SE1 used to be regarded as particularly grotty corner of London that was rough and 'well avoided'
So in the early 80s the GLC was happy to let students have council flats because at least they'd pay the rent. Some estates - like the Tyers estate just off Bermondsey Street were full of squatters and in quite poor condition. Nowadays, most of the homes have been sold there.
Since council house 'right to buy' was introduced in the early 80s, about 17,000 of the 54,000 (about 33%) council homes in Southwark have been sold off - many of which are now privately rented for about 3 times what the council rent would be. Very few council homes have been built since the 80s - the first few new ones are just coming through now.
So population up 33%, council homes down 32% - it's easy to see the big squeeze here.
And, of course, it's interesting the way you've asked the question. 30 years ago 'ordinary' people expected to live in a council house and not think anything of it - ownership was the exception rather than the rule (and earlier this week the Evening Standard said that that something like two-thirds of London residents would be renters in 10 years time - so we're heading back that way).
Successive governments have sold the public the home ownership dream and made people think of council houses as 'housing of last resort' for the most needy, rather than something there for everyone. The shortage of supply has helped to deliver this as a reality - with council having to let strictly on need.
Look at it this way - with about 20,000 people on the Southwark waiting list at the moment, if those 17,000 council homes that were sold were suddenly available for rent then the waiting list would almost completely disappear.
So a complicated picture - both in terms of policy, but also social and economic changes over the last 30 years.
I think in the future council housing wont exist any more. Years and years ago when I lived in Essex my neighbours bought their council house, when they decided to move and sell up a few years later, a private estate agent bought it from them, then rented it out to who ever could afford their rates at that time. It had people coming and going from it all the time after that.
There are a few flats in our blocks that have been sold off privately to rich estate agents as well in Southwark. The people next block to us have exactly same flat as us yet are paying over £400pw rent to private landlord. They share same communal garden as us. Same estate charges and all.
But if a person has been living in council house for years and then offered right to buy at low rates if they can afford it I would imagine they would, rather then paying endless rent forever. Because they may also think this could be security for their children as well.
The council say they cant afford to build no more council property yet can afford to waste millions on useless projects though.
Berkeley homes had a scheme where they leafleted council properties near tower bridge, my daughter had one told me I phoned and pretended to be interested. As I recall you bought the home with their money, moved out after six months and had a nice little earner! Bloke could not contain his delight when I told him I had a two bedroom house and garden! Obviously never took up his companies kind offer...