Welsh government introduces bill to scrap Right To Buy in Wales

Welsh councils welcomed the change

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Monday 13 March 2017 01:02 GMT

The Welsh Government will today introduce legislation to abolish the Right To Buy in the country.

The policy, which allows social housing tenants to buy their homes at a huge discount of up to £100,000, has already been scrapped by the Scottish Government but remains in place in England.

Right To Buy has been in part blamed for the UK’s housing shortage because forcing councils to offer any homes they build for sale at big discounts means it is uneconomical for them to build them.

house building has collapsed since the 1980s around the time the policy was introduced and private development has failed to close the house building gap.

The UK government has taken a different approach to the other consituent countries of the UK, instead announcing plans last month to extend the policy to even more homes which are currently expect. Labour says it would scrap the policy in the UK if elected at Westminster.

The Welsh Government’s Communities Secretary Carl Sargeant said scrapping the policy, would help the executive meet its affordable housing targets.

“Our social housing is a valuable resource, but it is under considerable pressure. The size of the stock has declined significantly since 1980 when the Right to Buy was introduced,” he said.

“The number of sales is equivalent to 45 per cent of the social housing stock in 1981. This has resulted in people in housing need, many of whom are vulnerable, waiting longer to access a home they can afford.

“The bill supports the Welsh Government’s wider aims of a more prosperous and fairer Wales, helping to tackle poverty by protecting our stock of social housing from further reduction.

“I recognise the proposal affects existing tenants and we will ensure tenants are made aware of the effect of the bill in good time before abolition takes place. The bill will require the Welsh Government to publish information, which social landlords in turn must provide to every affected tenant, within two months of the bill receiving Royal Assent.”

The bill would scrap Right to Buy, the Preserved Right to Buy and the Right to Acquire after a waiting period of at least one year from the law's introduction.

Welsh councils welcomed the policy change. Councillor Dyfed Edwards, the Welsh Local Government Association spokesperson for Housing, described the move as “essential”.

“At a time of acute shortages of social rented homes, and with many thousands of people currently on housing waiting lists, the proposal from the Welsh Government to abolish right to buy is a welcome step in tackling a growing problem in Wales,” he said.

“It is essential that people’s access is improved to good quality social rented housing in order to enhance people’s lives, and also to revitalise local communities.”

The Independent reported in February that housing charities and councils were worried that the policy’s extension in England would make it harder than ever to build homes.

Previous research cited by the London Assembly has found that as 40 per cent of homes sold under the Right to Buy scheme have ended up in the hands of private landlords, rather than boosting numbers of owner-occupiers in Britain.

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