The Scottish Government has put forward proposals to further restrict the right to buy housing policy.

Announcing a consultation on the issue, Housing Minister Keith Brown said reducing the number of people living in social rented accommodation who have the right to buy their homes will boost the supply of social housing across Scotland.

The proposed changes would cut the discounts available to those who wish to purchase their home through right to buy and place greater restrictions on where it would be available, for example, in areas where housing is in under particular pressure.

The changes could lead to up to 20,000 fewer social homes being sold off over the next 10 years, helping to boost the stock of affordable homes for rent.

While the main focus of the consultation is on tightening the current rules around who qualifies for right to buy, it also raises the possibility of ending right to buy all together at some point in the future.

Mr Brown, who was speaking at the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations’ (SFHA’s) annual conference, in Glasgow, said:

“I want to ensure that social housing is protected for future generations, providing homes for the people and jobs in the Scottish economy.

“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 of these have the preserved right to buy, with excessive discounts that I do not believe can be justified.

“As well as eroding the asset base, right to buy leaves landlords out of pocket, which can lead to higher rents for remaining tenants, and make it harder to invest in new stock.

“That is why the Scottish Government has, today, launched a consultation on the future of right to buy in Scotland.

“We are asking two main questions - should tenants who still have the preserved right to buy be moved onto the modernised right to buy?  Or, should we simply end all right to buy entitlements once and for all?

“I know that right to buy is an area where many people have strong views and this consultation is an opportunity for everyone to tell us what they think.”

Commenting on the launch of the consultation, Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said:

"There’s no point in running a bath with the plug out but that’s what we continue to do when we build good quality affordable homes for social rent and then sell them on at a discounted price.

“In the last ten years 92,000 homes were lost though Right-to-Buy in Scotland, meanwhile 156,000 households are on the waiting list for a home to call their own. For these families and individuals – and in particular children - the lack of social housing is like a nightmare with no end in sight.

“We welcome the steps the Scottish Government has already made to reduce the negative impact of Right to Buy and hope this trend continues.”


# Barontorc 2012-06-08 08:54
The right to buy system was an ideological dream of the Thatcher government and the well-being of the individual people and families was not foremost in their thinking.

This kind of social engineering fails when, as in this case, a social benefiting asset; houses are lost to the pool.

What should have been done is regeneration of social housing stock, with new-builds replacing those disposed assets.

Demographic facts have always been available; where population increases were expected, one-for-one replacements should have been at the very least a mandatory requirement.
# hiorta 2012-06-08 11:27
The 'right to buy' will still be available - by the age old method: folk save by various means, quit fags, booze and bookies to be enabled to make a start.

Thatcher's government used ego-massage to encourage folk to borrow to buy, then to borrow to renovate and finally to borrow to refurbish.

This illusory way of 'getting on' was designed to increase the tax take in an attempt to replenish tax-payers funds squandered on the Falklands War.
# pmcrek 2012-06-08 12:17
Large swathes of the housing stock in Scotland is squat, grey and depressing. I think we should be building folks nice houses instead and knocking down the current stock. Only this time we shouldnt buy lots of grey paint and get a 1970's Soviet architect to design them eh?

I mean right now you would be forgiven for thinking they shot the silent film Battleship Potemkin in Cumbernauld.
# hektorsmum 2012-06-08 12:57
Take a wee trip over to Dunfermline, get off the motorway at Halbeath and head for the old Hyundai factory, opposite there you will see what may well be the future of Scottish Social Housing. Not only are they nice they have practical heating and lighting solutions as well.
# Dcanmore 2012-06-08 12:55
Here in London the city is undergoing a massive process of social cleansing enacted by both Tory and Labour councils backed up by their Lib Dem pals. Only the Greens have been opposing this.

They sell off housing estates to an 'arms-length' housing association who then have the estates flattened on the promise that they will be replaced by new social housing. For instance the Heygate Estate in Elephant and Castle is next for demolition, 4000 1950s run down homes demolished in a £1.5 billion regeneration scheme. So they've moved the council tenants out of London and the developers are going to build 2500 new homes, but only around 300 will be available to council tenants (and this was after a protest). A 'nice little earner' as they say around here.

Prices will start at £150,000 for a one room bedsit studio apartment. Keeps the riffraff away!

VOTE YES 2014!
# Juteman 2012-06-08 13:09
O/T, but i wonder who can afford all these new homes?
The news today is about womens pensions closing in on mens pensions.
Seemingly the average male pension is £18,000 per annum.
Most folk i know never even earn that as a wage, never mind a pension!
Roll on 2014!
# Exile 2012-06-08 13:44
I had been under the impression the SNP had scrapped 'right to buy' years ago. I must have dreamt it.
# derick fae Yell 2012-06-08 16:55
The right to buy has been good for some individuals (how often is it that Governments give you money!) but has had many bad side effects. There are a huge swathe of RTB owner occupiers who could never really afford home ownership, and can't afford to maintain their houses properly. A nightmare for landlords to get common repairs done. Sooner it's ended the better
# dtr 2012-06-09 21:45
Hope they will start to build more houses soon though..
# pete_w 2012-06-09 22:45
Stu at Wings over Scotland wrote an excellent article describing some of the consequences of 'right to buy':
# ttwapies 2012-06-10 04:02
Thatcher sold RTB as a means by which ordinary people could "get ahead", and as a policy aimed at reducing public expenditure. This implied home ownership is a good thing in itself, and that public sector housing constitutes a drain on the public purse. These are two very big assumptions and grossly over simplify the duality of "housing". Housing is both physical shelter and the process by which this shelter is provided. One an issue of tenure the other a process requiring complex orginisation of finance and materials. The debate over public v private sector provision is extremely complex, and can not be fully adressed here. However, the historical context in which RTB came in to being must not be forgotten.

Labour had just gone cap in hand to the IMF for a bail out. As usual, IMF "support" was conditional on radical economic restructuring by the recipient (the slashing of public sector expenditure and wholesale deregulation and privatisation of public utilities). Many South American, African and southern European countries had recieved similar "support" throught the '60s and early '70s, along with facist military dictatorships if they did not already have one.

The Thatcher administration was the first democraticaly elected government to addopt this IMF neo-liberal "shock therapy". How could she implement this agenda without ending up in bloody revolution or military dictatorship, or both?

The bulk of her political opposition came from large local authorities. These were historicaly the largest employers and housing providers in the any local economy. As such, they constituted the crucial obsticle to her own neo-liberal revolution. Local democracy and collective barganing rights had to be crushed, but their grass-roots democratic approval and suport was too strong to attack head on. She had to criple the ability of local government to function, and at the same time curtail their roll in providing democraticaly accountable local services.

The RTB undermined local authority revenues by cutting income from rents, and at the same time adding an additional expenditure requirement for housing stock replacement. Local authorities were prevented from using the Capital Receipts from RTB sales, so were faced with funding housing replacement from other budgets. So began the "death of a thousand cuts", and the decline in the roll played by local government. The RTB was not only the privatisation of a public utility, it was also an attack on the collective barganing powers provided by local democracy.

The next attack on local authority revenues was Thatcher's true stroke of Machiavellian genius, the Poll Tax. Yes, the rating system was a mess, and the people were screaming for change, especialy here in Scotland. That is why there was a Royal Commission set up (1975?), to investigate the issue and to provide analysis and policy recommendations . These were ranked as such;

Most favoured option was Local Income Tax, which by nature would be sensative to local circustances, and would reflect people's ability to pay, so long as the tax was progresive (sound familiar?).
Next favoured option was the complete overhall of the existing system and re-valuation of the UK's entire building stock. This was expected to be a very costly and lengthy process and would also produce winners and losers, so was not politicaly neutral. Next was the do nothing option, though this was neither finacialy or politicaly practicle. Least favoured option, and STRONGLY recommended against, was the Poll Tax. This was felt to be uncollectable, and so could be expected to lead to huge losses in local authority revenues. It would also break the economic links between urban centres and their rural hinterlands. Urban services would be used by everyone but would only be paid for by tax payers living in cities. By nature, the Poll Tax was regressive so was politicaly unacceptible to most voters.

The Poll Tax was exactly the disaster predicted by the Royal Commission, delivering a devistating blow to local authority finances. Why Scotland first? Where were the loudest demands for change coming from? Where was the power base of her politcal opposition strongest? Where did she have zero political support and so could expect minimal losses? Scotland. So in one stroke, Thatcher gave the people what they wanted and at the same time significantly weakened her political opposition. True Machiavellian slight of hand.

Political suicide in the end may be, but sucessive Tory governments and her proudest achievment New Labour, were to carry the neo-liberal agenda forward to this very day. Welcome to Bankistan, land of austerity and hereditary privilage.
# weegie38 2012-06-11 06:28
I assume this is a reaction to the plans of the new Labour/Conservative coalition on East Lothian council, whose very first action was to attempt to reintroduce RTB.
# Diabloandco 2012-06-11 18:03

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