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end the ‘right to buy’ council housing

Comment 18th August 2010

At a time when social housing is in desperate and increasing demand it is nonsense to continue this misguided Thatcherite policy. It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't full of loopholes, but the right to buy provisions are open wide to misuse and social housing continues to be lost to the detriment both of the taxpayer and those most genuinely in need of social housing; and to the advantage of the wealthy and greedy individuals who abuse these provisions.

Why does this matter?

It's time to STOP FACILITATING GREED. Increasingly, right to buy applications are made by tenants who cannot afford the purchase. In many instances the money is put forward by another individual or company who will sit on the sidelines, waiting to take on the property themselves. This may be family members who already own their own property, but take advantage of an elderly parent's council tenancy to inherit the right to buy as an investment for themselves. The parent may then go into sheltered accommodation (also funded by the state) and the house will be revamped and sold on for a profit or let out to individuals for non-affordable rents (likely those paying the rent would need to be heavily subsidised in housing benefit – this would cost the state more than if those occupying were under a council tenancy). Sometimes, someone completely unrelated to a vulnerable tenant will latch onto them and offer to put up money for the right to buy, and then quietly watch as they eventually fail to meet unaffordable repayments, or will force them out in some other way. The former tenant would then seek to be rehoused, so the state still has to pay for their housing but has lost the social housing resource (with all the investment involved) to a private individual, who is likely to charge a high rent to a new tenant. The new tenant is likely to need high levels of housing benefit to pay. Sometimes of course, it will be a sub-prime mortgage company putting up the dosh, and waiting for the inevitable failure of repayments before repossessing, thank you very much. When is the taxpayer going to wake up and realise that the money they have been contributing to social housing form the past few decades is just going towards making private individuals rich. Right to buy has nothing to do with social housing, it's about PRIVATE PROFIT and it has no place in a modern society where there is a genuine need for social housing. If you can afford to buy, go out there and buy in the private market – don't suck up all the social sector resources! We need to accept the fact that some people in society will always need to be tenants, whether for financial reasons or because of some degree of vulnerability. We need to preserve and protect the social housing available for them, not give it away to make people who are already property owners even more well off.  There is no longer a place for the right to buy. The years of Thatcherite greed have gone, haven't they? Has 'self self self' been replaced by 'the big society'? Let's see.

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