SNP set to scrap right to buy council homes in Scotland
The “right to buy” for tenants in council houses could be abolished in Scotland, under Scottish Government plans.
Introduced as a flagship policy by the Thatcher government in the 1980s, it has seen almost half a million homes snapped up by Scots eager to get on the housing ladder. A further half a million are still entitled to buy their homes at a discounted price, but ministers say the discount of up to 70 per cent on house prices is “unjustifiable”.
About 400,000 Scots are on council and housing association waiting lists and housing bodies have campaigned for the policy to be ended to retain much-needed social housing.
But now the Scottish Government has launched a consultation on the scheme, with scrapping it an option.
Housing minister Keith Brown said: “Over the years the sale of hundreds of thousands of properties under right to buy has led to a haemorrhaging in our social housing stock.
“Councils have been willing to start building again – backed by £115 million from this government – because they know that those houses will continue to be available as affordable houses to rent for future generations.
“However, over half a million tenants still have a right-to-buy entitlement, and over 200,000 have the preserved right to buy, with excessive discounts that I do not believe can be justified.
“Right to buy leaves landlords out of pocket, which can lead to higher rents for remaining tenants.”
The traditional “preserved” form of right to buy offers discounts of up to 70 per cent on the market value of a flat, although it depends on how long a tenant has stayed there. This appears certain to be abolished.
The Scottish Government is consulting on whether the policy should be ditched completely, or all eligible tenants should be offered only “modernised” right-to-buy schemes, which means discounts of up to 35 per cent or £15,000, whichever is lower.
The SNP government has been restricting right to buy since coming to power. It has been stopped for new tenants and all new-build housing.
Mary Taylor, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, yesterday backed a complete ban.
“The stark fact is demand for rented accommodation is now far outstripping supply,” she said. “We would urge all housing associations and co-operatives to support the option in the Scottish Government’s consultation document to end all forms of the right to buy in Scotland.”
But Tory housing spokesman Alex Johnstone said the policy had been the “greatest driver of social change” in a generation.
He added: “Right to buy must remain one of the tools to help people realise their home-ownership aspirations.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 2 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 21 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West