Good riddance to right-to-buy

IN some ways, ending right-to-buy now is like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

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But the horse hasn't just bolted, it's miles away and has sired countless foals who have wreaked havoc for years.

In Scotland, Margaret Thatcher's policy allowing people to buy their council or housing association home saw almost half a million social rented homes sold off.

The good stock, in the most sought after areas, houses that were not hers to sell in the first place, were lost to the community forever.

Along with privatisation of utilities, it typified the Tory governments of the 1980s and 1990s - look after number one and never mind the consequences for others, they can look after themselves. If they can't, tough.

Every house that was sold was one less available to young families desperate for a suitable home, forced into the more expensive private rented sector, where many right-to-buy homes ended up.

It left councils with the stock no-one wanted to buy so it was not surprising few wanted to rent them either.

Now, 30 years later, Mrs Thatcher's successors tell us a shortage of available two and three-bedroom homes in the social sector justifies the bedroom tax to free them up from those 'under occupying'.

I can't think how we ended up with a shortage. If only we had another half a million homes for rent.

Right-to-buy was a success for some, but not everyone profited.

Some people were badly advised and not fully aware of the responsibilities of home ownership, incurring repair costs they couldn't afford and a house that became a millstone.

The winners were those who bought the best houses for a knock-down price, then a few years later sold at market value to make an easy, eye-watering profit.

ALTERNATIVELY paying off the mortgage and dying in the house leaves a nice inheritance.

It's good for the next generation but not the next generation of social housing seekers, who had to wait years for the growing housing association movement and councils to start building homes again - which is why it has been correct to end right-to-buy.

Otherwise we would have ended up with the same problem and the continued disincentive to build.

The final act passed this week only affects the few thousand remaining people who still have the right to buy their council house, as new-builds have been protected already.

Right-to-buy was pure Thatcherism - enabling some people to profit at the expense of many others in society.

In two years' time we can finally say good-bye to right-to-buy. Good riddance.


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