End of Right to Buy for social housing tenants

Half a million council and housing association homes were sold off under Right to Buy in Scotland.
Half a million council and housing association homes were sold off under Right to Buy in Scotland.

Right to Buy, which allows tenants in social housing to buy their homes, ends tomorrow (July 31) in Scotland.

Between the years 1979-80 and 2014-15 a total of 494,580 council and housing association homes were sold under Right to Buy in Scotland – homes no longer available to later generations who wanted to rent in the social housing sector.

The Scottish Government says ending Right to Buy will protect the housing stock that is available for social renting.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “The end of Right to Buy marks a major milestone in the Scottish Government’s efforts to build a sustainable housing policy for the future.

“It is absolutely vital that people can access social housing when they need it most. Since Right to Buy was introduced in 1980, nearly half a million council and housing association homes have been sold to their tenants.

“By ending the Right to Buy we are protecting up to 15,500 social homes from sale over the next 10 years and safeguarding this stock for future generations.

“The Scottish Government is doing everything possible to maximise our investment in housing and to deliver on our ambitious target of 50,000, affordable homes over the lifetime of this Parliament, including 35,000 social homes. But with thousands of people on waiting lists for council and housing association houses, it was only right for us to scrap this scheme as we could no longer afford to see the social sector lose out on badly needed homes.

“Giving everyone access to a good quality affordable home is a priority for this Government and we will continue to assist people into home ownership through a range of shared equity schemes including Help to Buy (Scotland) and Open Market Shared Equity to help thousands of households own their own homes.”

Dr Mary Taylor, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), said her organisation was delighted to see the Right to Buy policy coming to an end in Scotland.

“This hasn’t come a moment too soon,” she said. “Right to Buy has had its day and has no place in modern Scotland.

“SFHA and its members long campaigned for an end to Right to Buy, and warmly welcomes the end of a policy which has led to a considerable reduction in the availability of truly affordable social rented homes and contributed to the growing intergenerational inequality in terms of access to affordable quality housing.”

The end of Right to Buy has also been welcomed by Shelter Scotland.

Graeme Brown, director of the housing and homelessness charity, said: “Half a million social homes were sold off under Right to Buy in Scotland. For every three homes sold only one was built in replacement – so no wonder we have a housing crisis in Scotland.”

He added: “Now that right-to-buy is consigned to history – and with a waiting list of 150,000 for a council house – what Scotland desperately needs now is a step change in the delivery of affordable housing. We need to build at least 12,000 new affordable homes a year to meaningfully tackle Scotland’s housing crisis.

“We also need a new national homelessness strategy to get to grips with the root causes of homelessness.

“Only with these progressive changes will we start to address the profound damage caused to our housing system by policies like right-to-buy and the decades of underinvestment in affordable housing.”