SHELTER Scotland has called for the right of council tenants to buy their homes at a discount to be scrapped.
Responding to the Scottish Government’s recently launched consultation on the right-to-buy policy, the leading housing and homelessness charity says that a policy designed for the 1970s has no place in today’s Scottish housing landscape and abolition is the best way of protecting the supply of council houses.
Other than abolition, Shelter Scotland says it would only support reforms where all tenants are moved to modernised terms – with much smaller discounts and longer qualification periods.
The charity says it backs the Scottish Government’s thrust to abolish or reform right-to-buy, which runs counter to the Westminster government’s push to extend right-to-buy in England.
The Scottish Government estimates that if right-to-buy was abolished 10,000 social homes would be saved between 2015 and 2020. That number would reduce to around 5,000 should the policy be reformed to modernised terms. Shelter Scotland says a minimum of 10,000 new social homes a year are required to meet demand.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, says:
“Right-to-buy has greatly benefited many thousands of council tenants who have been able to buy their home at a discount. But the good fortune of a few has come at the cost of many more people having to go through the despair and frustration of sitting on council waiting lists for months and years. A cost is also incurred by the local authority that paid for the houses, as they are forced to sell them off at a big discount.
“Years of tampering with right-to-buy has left the legislation complex and confusing. Shelter Scotland’s preferred option is to scrap right-to-buy and consign it to the history books. The policy has no place in today’s housing system where demand for social homes continues to outstrip supply by some distance.
“We estimate 10,000 new homes a year need to be built. By protecting existing and future council house stock, local authorities will be much more inclined to invest in social housing. That’s why we are calling for the abolition of right-to-buy and investment in a social housing system that meets current and future demand in Scotland.”
Notes to Editors:
1. Currently, 156,000 households are on council waiting lists. In the last ten years, 92,000 council homes have been sold through to right-to-buy.
2. Shelter Scotland provides expert support services, online advice and a free national helpline for everyone facing housing and homelessness difficulties. For advice and support visit www.shelterscotland.org or call 0808 800 4444.
3. Spokespeople are available for interview – call the media office on 0844 515 2442. An ISDN line is available for broadcast interviews.
Shelter Scotland believes everyone should have a home. We help people find and keep a home. We campaign for decent housing for all.