Shelter Scotland urges end to right-to-buy policy

Rooftops Shelter believes 10,000 new social houses are needed a year to meet demand

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A housing charity has urged ministers to scrap the right to buy for council and housing association tenants.

Shelter Scotland said the move would encourage local authorities to invest more in social housing.

The charity claimed 10,000 new social houses were needed a year to meet current demand.

The Scottish government is currently consulting on reforming the right-to-buy policy, with the option of scrapping it in the future.

In giving its estimate of new social housing requirements, Shelter Scotland said there were 156,000 households on the waiting list for a council property.

But it maintained that in the last decade 92,000 council properties had been sold through the policy, which allows tenants to buy their home at a discounted price.

An estimated 455,000 homes have been bought under right-to-buy since it was established during former prime minister Margaret Thatcher's period in office.

More than half-a-million tenants have the right to buy their council or housing association home, with 207,000 entitled to a discount of up to 70%.

Start Quote

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”

End Quote Graeme Brown Shelter Scotland director

In its response to the Scottish government's consultation, Shelter Scotland argued that right-to-buy should be abolished.

The charity said failing that, it would only support major reform of the policy including smaller discounts.

Shelter Scotland director Graeme Brown said right-to-buy had "greatly benefited" many thousands of council tenants who had been able to buy their home at a discount.

He continued: "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."

Mr Brown said the policy had "no place in today's housing system where demand for social homes continues to outstrip supply by some distance".

He added: "By protecting existing and future council-house stock, local authorities will be much more inclined to invest in social housing."

In announcing the consultation in June, Housing Minister Keith Brown said reducing the number of people living in social rented accommodation who had the right to buy their homes would boost the supply of social housing across Scotland.

The proposed changes would cut the discounts available to those who want to purchase their home through right-to-buy and place greater restrictions on where it would be available, for example, in areas where housing is in under particular pressure.

The Scottish government says such changes could lead to up to 20,000 fewer social homes being sold off over the next 10 years, helping to boost the stock of affordable homes for rent.

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