The Welsh Assembly government has followed the Scottish Executive’s lead and suspended the Right to Buy buy council homes. However it is unlikely that England will follow suit.
Right to Buy (RTB) was a key plank in the Conservative Election manifesto of 1979 and was introduced by the Thatcher government in the form of the Housing Act of 1980. RTB led to the sale of hundreds of thousands of council homes, none of which were replaced. Local authorities were prohibited from spending capital receipts on building new homes. This policy is directly responsible for the housing crisis that we are witnessing today.
This blogger recognizes the hidden financial cost of RTB but also warns that
…this change in policy might be a little too late since many local authorities have already undertaken (or plan to undertake) housing stock transfers to other agencies. In 1980, there were around 300,000 homes in council ownership, now, that is down to around 156,000. Thus the impact of the policy might not be as great as desired.
Inside Housing, on the other hand is pleased and tells us that this legislation will apply to areas of “high housing need”. Though it comes as no surprise to learn that the Westminster government was against this. I think we know why.
In London, as in the rest of England, there is a huge housing shortage. But the government appears to have set its face against building new social housing here, which it wrongly blames for all manner of social ills. But wouldn’t a program of house-building benefit the economy in the long term? Pity the government doesn’t see it that way.