THE past week has brought into sharp focus the fact that, while the introduction of the right to buy in 1980 was UK-wide, the approaches of the Westminster and Holyrood governments are now markedly different.
While big money is being spent promoting right-to-buy down south, last summer the Scottish Government consulted on radically reforming the scheme, proposing to cut discounts or abolish it.
Most local authorities, housing associations and tenants’ groups said they wanted to see abolition in order to maximise the supply of precious social rented housing.
However, although it will be some months before any reforms are seen in a new Housing Bill, there has been an uneasy silence on the proposals since they were so widely welcomed last year.
Ministers are said to be “considering the options”, but one might imagine that this would have been undertaken prior to the options being presented in the consultation. With the consultation outcome being so overwhelmingly in favour of abolishing the right to buy, it is of concern that everything has now gone quiet.
Housing bodies could perhaps be forgiven the hunch that the approaching referendum might be leading to a reluctance to progress policies that some tenants might not like.
Notwithstanding that many tenants understand we have a housing crisis and need all the housing we can get, it is a worry if the referendum is having a “don’t rock the boat” impact on the regular business of progressing important legislation.
Only prompt reassurance from the Scottish Government that it is indeed intending to act on the clear outcome of the consultation will allay our suspicions.
Alan Ferguson, Director, Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland
(Dr) Mary Taylor, Chief executive, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
Head of policy and public affairs, Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland
Princes Street, Edinburgh