Mark Prisk MP is Minister for Housing. Follow Mark on Twitter.
In the 80s, under Right to
Buy, Magaret Thatcher helped millions of people living in council housing achieve
their aspiration of owning a home – and I'm proud to be continuing that work
today. However, it has not been easy. The Labour Party has continually shown
that they are not on the side of aspiration, or of those who want to work hard
and get on. When in power, they made a succession of cuts to Right to Buy,
slashing the level of discounts and eligibility criteria for council housing
tenants. They also failed to increase those discounts to reflect rising
property prices, and as a result this vital rung on the property ladder was all
Fast forward to today – when
the latest figures show that in the last year sales under the Right to Buy
scheme have more than doubled to 5,942: the highest level for six years.
And this hasn't happened accidentally. Unlike Labour, we've been determined to
make it easier for those who've paid their rent and now want to buy their own
home to do so.
Our reason for doing this?
Because, as Conservatives, we don't believe that home ownership should be just for
some: we want many to achieve that dream, and the Right to Buy allows people to
do just that. It gives something back to the families who've worked hard and
played by the rules, and that's why I'm so passionate about it. It allows people
to make changes to their home without getting permission from the council, and
to enjoy the independence which goes with that. The benefits of this extend far
beyond four walls, giving people a sense of pride and ownership not just in
their home, but in their street and neighbourhood, helping to build strong
families and stable mixed communities.
In order to boost Right to
Buy, we've increased the maximum discount available in England to £75,000 and in
London from this March to £100,000. We've also spread the opportunity to more
families by changing the law so that they can apply after only three years,
instead of five. And we've committed, too, to replenishing housing stock by building
new and affordable homes, and supporting first time buyers through such schemes as New Buy, which free up homes for those in need. By contrast, in Labour-run
Wales, housebuilding has stalled because of extra red tape, and discounts for
Right to Buy have been kept down to £16,000. In addition, thanks to legislative
measures introduced by the Welsh Government in 2011, some councils have
‘suspended’ it completely.
We've faced similar
opposition in England from some Labour MPs and councils, who despite offers of
central Government help are leaving people in the dark. However, the Right to Buy is being
successfully adopted in many places. For example, in Birmingham where the number
of sales has doubled, or in Newcastle and Kirklees where sales have risen by
over 200%. But we still need to do more. I have been encouraged to see
Conservative MPs helping spread the word. Robert Halfon MP has set up his own
website as has Stephen McPartland MP.
It;s really important that all
Conservative MP's and Councillors continue to make sure that people know about their right to
buy, especially in places where local authorities are opposed to the principle,
or even just dragging their feet. The Right to Buy has now
helped over two million households to buy their own home, people who previously
would never have had the chance. We want to make sure that another generation
also enjoy the same right and
this Government is determined to make that happen.