The BBC report that the Government are planning to revive the Right to Buy scheme. This is excellent news – something I have repeatedly called for on this site. There were only 3,690 sales under the Right to Buy in England last year. Sales including housing association properties were just 8,410.
For the Right to Buy to have meaning there need to be proper discounts reflecting the alternative of heavily subsidised rent. Scrapping John Prescott's cap on the level of discounts provided under the Right to Buy introduced during the Thatcher Government is crucial. The discounts range from up to 32% to 60% for houses and 44% to 70% for flats depending on length of tenure. But with the limit Prescott put on the amounts (ranging from £16,000 to £38,000) in practice the discounts are far smaller. The Prescott cap must go.
Around 70% of social housing tenants would like to own. At the moment the system makes that option unrealistic for those living in the two million council homes and two million housing association homes. I hope housing association tenants will also be given the right to buy.
The Sunday Times interview with David Cameron includes comments (£) about selling thousands of acres of Government land for 100,000 new homes. This is not a new announcement but it is thoroughly welcome – both for easing the housing shortage and reducing the National Debt (or slowing its rise) by £7 billion.
7,000 acres are being sold but a nought or two should be added. As I wrote in the Municipal Journal the Ministry of Defence alone owns 600,000 – roughly the size of Surrey. 10 million new homes and £700 billion off the National Debt (albeit over several years) would have really given The Sunday Times something to put on the front page.