Tag Archives: Right To Buy

Here’s why it isn’t ‘Right to Buy’ the UK’s diminishing stock of social housing

Headcase in a hard hat: you can be sure the houses Johnson was helping – if you can call it that – to build weren’t publicly-owned.

I just heard a cautionary tale about a family who had a disabled child.

This youngster needed a lot of extra attention and help, so the family needed to be close to what might nowadays be called their “support network” – family members and friends able to help out.

Fortunately, they were able to rent a council house exactly where they needed it.

All was well for some time – until Margaret Thatcher introduced her “Right to Buy” scheme that allowed tenants to purchase their council houses, taking out mortgages on them. The houses lost to the private sector in this way were not replaced.

The family in my story took advantage of the offer and bought their home.

And then the child’s father lost his job.

The family became unable to keep up payments on the mortgage and the lender foreclosed. They lost their home – and were rehoused a considerable distance away, meaning they also lost the “support network” on which they had come to rely.

Nobody bought the now-empty former council house – not for a number of years anyway, and certainly not to the knowledge of the person who told me this tale.

So, as a result of Thatcher’s “Right to Buy” scheme, a family lost their home and it went empty – and this was not a unique situation. Homelessness increased exponentially under Thatcher, and this was a major contributor.

I mention all this by way of introduction. Now let me direct you to an article by the I newspaper’s housing correspondent Vicky Spratt (link below), arguing strongly against Boris Johnson’s plan to revive the “Right to Buy”.

It’s a long read, which I strongly advise you to take the time to absorb. One significant point is that failure to provide good-quality social housing leads to the spread of disease, and private landlords will never be able to provide the quantity or quality of homes people need.

But I’ll cut to the chase. Her verdict on social housing is as follows:

Social housing was a national asset, both because it was state-owned and because it benefited society, empowering people with secure, healthy homes.

Social housing allows people not merely to survive but to build their lives.

On “Right to Buy”:

The problem is that it enabled the transfer of social housing – and the rental income it generates – from local authorities to private landlords, who can charge renters as much as they like. Between 1980 and 2015, it resulted in the sale of more than 2.8 million dwellings. In the same period, we did not come close to replacing these with new social housing.

Jim Strang, former president of the Chartered Institute of Housing, wrote in 2019 that this made it “the biggest act of economic and social self-harm ever inflicted on this nation”.

Who has benefitted most from the policy over the decades? Right to Buy homeowners turned private landlords, and investors who bought up former social homes to rent out. Right to Buy became Right to Buy-to-let.

Hundreds of private landlords now own five or more Right to Buy properties; they are hoarding them and it’s good business. This means that Government pays significantly more in Housing Benefit than they would have if they had kept council properties in state ownership – and it is going straight into the pockets of private landlords. It has become a state subsidy to private landlords.

Delivered through Universal Credit, Housing Benefit is calculated through the Local Housing Allowance (LHA). In his 2010 austerity budget, Osborne announced that he would cut LHA from covering the lowest half of rents in any given area to the lowest third. He also made it impossible for single people under 35 to get Housing Benefit for a place of their own, thinking this would encourage people to look for cheaper properties. In 2016, the Government announced a four-year freeze in LHA.

But rents kept rising, causing low-income renters to have to choose between eating and paying their rent. It forced many out of their homes. And none of Mr Osborne’s cuts reduced the amount that private renters had to pay their landlords – they simply took cash out of renters’ pockets. The private rental market was out of control, with both rising house prices and the social housing shortage enabling it.

Ms Spratt’s comments on the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic – and Rishi Sunak’s pathetic offer to tenants – are also well worth noting.

And on Johnson’s new plan, she says:

His policy unit, led by Andrew Griffith, is beginning to examine how up to 2.5 million households – or five million people – who rent from housing associations could be allowed to buy their homes at a discount of up to 70 per cent. Polly Neate, chief executive of the housing charity Shelter, said the “hare-brained idea” is “the opposite of what the country needs”.

But Boris Johnson has always been about doing “the opposite of what the country needs”. Look at Brexit. Look at his overall response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the thousands of people who died needlessly. Look at his lawbreaking and his lies.

He wants to help private landlords buy up more of the social housing stock because it will put millions more people into housing insecurity; because it will force more of you to have to choose between eating and paying the rent; because it will make more of you homeless.

What do you think of that?

Source: Social housing saved my grandparents in 1956, but Right to Buy has betrayed today’s young families

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn says – UK Politics – UK – The Independent

This is a neat response to the Conservative plan that would extend right-to-buy so it includes Housing Association properties, that are privately-owned.

Mr Corbyn is quite correct to say that, if HA properties can be sold off, privately-owned rented properties should also be available to buy.

The ‘Right To Buy’ policy that lets council tenants buy their homes at a big discount should be extended to the tenants of private landlords, a Labour leadership contender has said.

Jeremy Corbyn said Labour needed to go further in tackling the housing crisis and that extending Right To Buy could help more people find a secure place to live.

How will the Tories respond?

Source: Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn says – UK Politics – UK – The Independent

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Today’s Tories don’t know people want MORE social housing, not less

[Image: Cornwall Council (of all places!)]

[Image: Cornwall Council (of all places!)]

The Tories seem to be suffering from cognitive dissonance – an attempt to believe two opposing ideas at once.

Not only have they forced people to pay an unwarranted and crippling ‘bedroom tax’ for living in social housing with more bedrooms than they have decided – arbitrarily – are necessary (and let’s not forget that these were the only homes available for most tenants, due to the appalling shortage of social housing created by Margaret Thatcher’s ‘right to buy’ policy)…

Not only that, but they are planning to make the situation worse for social housing tenants in the future, by extending ‘right to buy’ into housing association properties!

Let’s make something perfectly clear: Housing association properties are not government assets. They belong to private companies whose commercial well-being depends on rental income.

Many housing associations – if not all – have been hit hard by the Bedroom Tax, which makes it more difficult for tenants to meet their rent-paying obligations.

This means that the proposed sale of housing association properties – at discounts of between £77,000 and £102,000 would cripple those organisations’ ability to replace the stock they would lose.

This is a policy designed to deny cheaply-rentable housing to people who need it in the future. It is also designed to boost the more expensive private rental market; according to Tax Research UK, half of all former council properties sold by right-to-buy tenants are now in that sector.

It would also lead to a rise in house prices, as people taking advantage of the offer move to sell their homes on, at a profit. This will make housing less accessible to the poor, and the buildings more available to private landlords, who can then charge higher rents – possibly to the very people who just sold the properties.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party Manifesto, launched yesterday (Monday), includes a whole section on “Building new homes”.  On page 46, it refers to “getting the public sector building again. We will build more affordable homes by prioritising capital investment for housing and by reforming the council house financing system.”

Does this mean Labour will be encouraging the building of more council houses again?

That would be terrific.

Especially for the hundreds of thousands who have been pushed towards poverty by the Bedroom Tax.

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It’s time to kill off claims that Labour started the Bedroom Tax

Homeless: The Bedroom Tax has forced the eviction of an ever-growing number of social tenants. How many people have been evicted because of Local Housing Allowance?

Homeless: The Bedroom Tax has forced the eviction of an ever-growing number of social tenants. How many people have been evicted because of Local Housing Allowance?

It seems every debate on the brutal Tory Bedroom Tax has lately been overshadowed by some ill-informed commentator claiming that the Labour Party cannot oppose the measure because it imposed its own version of the same thing on the private rented sector, years ago.

Such a claim was made on the Vox Political Facebook page yesterday (Thursday) and Yr Obdt Srvt promised to seek out the facts.

Thanks to today’s debate on the Affordable Housing Bill, there was no need to look very far.

As mentioned in the debate, Labour imposed the Local Housing Allowance in order to stop private tenants from abusing the Housing Benefit system by moving into accommodation that was larger than they could afford – remember, private rented accommodation is more expensive than social housing – and forcing the taxpayer to fund the difference.

Labour’s measure was imposed only on people moving into privately rented accommodation after the LHA law was enacted.

So, for example, a single person might choose to take a place with two bedrooms. Before LHA was brought in, they could claim housing benefit on the property and rely on the taxpayer to stump up for the extra space. LHA means they get the money required for what they need – and they have to pay for the extra space. This is fair because moving into the larger property was their choice.

As with ordinary housing benefit, if a tenant’s circumstances change for the better, the amount of benefit payable is reduced. Why should a private tenant expect preferential treatment?

It seems that private landlords, who have been charging more than they should, have been angered by the imposition of the LHA and have chosen to wage a propaganda war against it, claiming that it is the Bedroom Tax by another name. Note that they are not against the Bedroom Tax, because it drives social housing tenants to the private sector.

Compare that with the Bedroom Tax. The Tories have imposed a charge on people who are living in social housing that was allocated to them on the basis of their need and the accommodation that was available; it is not the tenants’ fault if the only available accommodation was larger than they needed (more appropriate dwellings had probably been sold off under a previous Tory government’s ‘Right To Buy’ scheme).

The Conservative Bedroom Tax was imposed retrospectively – that is, it affected people who were already sitting tenants rather than those moving into accommodation. It was not intended to combat abuse of the system but was simply a way of robbing social tenants of help that they needed.

And the Bedroom Tax was imposed in the knowledge that the amount of alternative accommodation available to social tenants who needed to downsize in order to avoid the charge was only a fraction of what was needed. These people were trapped by this cruel legislation and driven into debt – in stark contrast to the Labour legislation which only affected people choosing to move into accommodation that was larger than they needed.

There is a huge difference between the Local Housing Allowance and the Bedroom Tax.

Any claims that they are similar must be rooted either in stupidity or in politically-motivated malice.

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