Social housing ‘right to buy’ policy ends

Mary Taylor, CEO Scottish Federation of Housing Associations

The Scottish Government said that Right to Buy, the policy introduced under Margaret Thatcher that allowed tenants in social housing to buy their homes — often at big discounts — came to an end on Sunday in Scotland.

The Scottish Government voted in 2014 to scrap the scheme amid concerns about a shortage of social housing.

Holyrood said that almost 500,000 council and housing association homes were sold under Right to Buy in Scotland between 1979-80 and 2014-15.

The Scottish Government said these were “homes no longer available to later generations who wanted to rent in the social housing sector.”

It added: “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 ten 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.”

Mary Taylor, CEO of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), said: “SFHA is delighted that all forms of the right to buy policy in Scotland have now come to an end and this hasn’t come a moment too soon.

“Right to buy has had its day and has no place in modern Scotland.

“SFHA and its members long campaigned for an end to RTB, 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.

“Going forward, we have a chance in Scotland to adopt a housing policy that is focused on the supply of well-designed, energy efficient social rented homes that are truly affordable to people on low incomes.”