Thatcher's right-to-buy scheme makes comeback


Margaret Thatcher's "right to buy" scheme of the 1980s is to be relaunched by the Conservatives with the proceeds used to build new social housing.

As part of a two-pronged approach to create extra housing stock, the Government plans to give construction companies enough public-sector land to develop 100,000 homes. The firms will only pay for the sites when the properties they build on them are sold.

The original right-to-buy scheme introduced by the Conservatives in the 1980s was criticised for not reinvesting the proceeds of sales in new housing, cutting the social-housing stock available to those on low incomes.

Under Labour, the discounts were reduced, discouraging take-up of the scheme. But the Conservatives said the new scheme would be more generous and the money from council house sales would be invested into building new affordable homes for those on low incomes. The Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, claimed that together the initiatives would create around 200,000 extra homes and 400,000 extra jobs.

But he declined to say how much the right-to-buy discounts would be. "It's going to be a combination of how long somebody's been in [the home] and there will be a ceiling on the total amount," he said, insisting there were "more than enough" social homes currently available to keep the Government's new right-to-buy system going as existing stock was sold off.

He said the detail would be in a housing strategy "that's going to be produced in a matter of weeks" and added, "we will prefer to wait until that document is out".

He said the discounts offered under Labour had gone down "and the amount of right-to-buy disappeared".