The government should pull the plug on its Right to Buy policy as it fails to meet its pledge for a one for one replacement target

(This item first appeared in my Opinion column in the Brighton Argus on 10th August 2016)

When the government extended the subsidies available for tenants to buy their council homes, the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, promised that all the homes sold as a result would be replaced within three years.

Analysis by the magazine Inside Housing has revealed that this pledge is almost certain to be missed.

Had discounts not been increased, expected sales for the period between 2012/13 and 2015/16 were 14,336. After the subsidies had been raised to £75,000 outside London and £100,000 in the capital, 41,755 were actually sold.

This meant that an additional 27,419 homes are needed to be built to meet the pledge. The actual number of new homes started in that period was just 6,526, a deficit of 20,893.

The Right to Buy makes no sense whatsoever from an economic or housing perspective. For a while it made electoral sense, as witnessed by the success of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, but now it defies all logic as the housing crisis deepens.

The Right to Buy is great news for those who already are housed, but does nothing for those on waiting lists, in overcrowded or temporary accommodation, or those who are homeless.

Rather than proceeding with their plans to extend the Right to Buy to housing associations, Theresa May and her new housing minister Gavin Barwell should pull the plug on this ridiculous policy and invest Right to Buy subsidies into new social homes for rent, built by councils or housing associations.


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