Britain Today

Reaffirmation of Right-to-Buy

Left Foot Forward cogitates over a Conservative Prime Minister’s return to Brentwood to relaunch a policy a predecessor had relaunched in the same borough some 30 years ago.

Council tenants in England and Wales now are to be offered discounts of up to £75,000 to purchase their homes. As pointed out in the article, emphasis is being placed on Council properties which now form a minority of the social housing stock; although, I assume, housing associations would be given the option of participating at later stages.

I have no objection to RtB in principle. My main objection is the historical failure to allow funds raised to be used for more building programmes. Instead, the existing social housing stock gradually has decreased. At the same time, promotion of favourable right-to-let mortgages has changed what was intended as a means for private individuals to secure a modest secure income into a means for a noveau aristocracy to obtain multiple properties; which an entire class who are unable to secure mortgages or social housing are compelling to accept on short-term leases.

Although SarahAB spoke favourably of Grant Schapps’ proposal for an affordable rent programme, the LFF makes the reasonable observation that he sees the properties made available by this as representing new stock. Not the construction of new properties.

Higher rents will be charged for this new stock (although new tenant agreements for existing social housing properties also will include higher rents). Thus, generous RtB schemes would be funded by taxpayers leading to a depletion of State assets, followed by higher rents for those unable to secure private property or in receipt of State-funded housing benefit.

Another point around a Schapps’ proposal which appears to have been overlooked is that such empty-nesters are more likely to live in affluent areas which do not correspond to the wider under-funded housing market.

SarahAB also objected to spiteful undertones in a piece by George Monbiot which saw empty-nesters and other owners of under-used space as a class enemy. I have yet to find confirmation of what size of property Monbiot lives in.