This is the text of my ‘Opinion’ piece in today’s Argus (20/04/15):
I have been a long standing opponent of the Right to Buy. I am a home owner and wouldn’t wish to stand in the way of anyone else getting on the home ownership ladder.
But how can it be morally right for someone who, when in housing need, was given a secure home with subsidised rents, to later be subsidised yet further to become a home owner when there are literally millions of people in need of a secure home with a rent that they can afford?
Waiting lists for social housing are now so long that, along with the Great Wall of China, they can be seen from space.
Right to Buy does not address housing need. It sees a reduction in social housing numbers. It benefits those who are already well-placed. It could cost £11,644,362,048 according to the National Housing Federation.
The Right to Buy doesn’t help private renters. It doesn’t help people on council waiting lists. It doesn’t help young people living with their parents. It does nothing to address affordability. The £11.6 billion subsidy could achieve so much more.
Writing in the Telegraph last week, Julia Hartley-Brewer summed up her concerns about extending the Right to Buy further, to tenants of housing associations: “Financially speaking, the scheme is nonsensical. Practically speaking, it is close to absurd. When a (housing association or council) home is sold, it is lost forever to future generations”.