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The right to buy scheme: Mistake or Missed opportunity.

Updated: Sep 16, 2022

The right to buy scheme was a scheme implemented within the legislation of the Housing Act 1980 during the tenure of Margaret Thatchers Conservative government. In a similar vein to Thatcher herself, this scheme divides opinion with the number people strongly in favour of the scheme equally met by those opposing it. Council Tenants were able to purchase their property at a discount of market value with some properties receiving up to a 70% discount & using this scheme over 1 million council houses were sold off to tenants in 2 decades.

I believe the scheme was overall a good idea that was poorly executed with old stock being sold off, the councils failed to future-proof and build new stock at the same rate leading to the housing crisis we face today. The government, from national level right the way down to the local council are in fact biggest landlord in the country yet people who hold anti-landlord sentiments never acknowledge this and pile on them at any given chance. I believe that if the government provided suitable and affordable housing for sale alongside rental property for short term inhabitants then the private sector would also thrive as they would be able to rent to more students or migrants on a short term work visa and a whole host of other people who need housed as much as the family with a few kids need a 4 bed or the elderly widow needs a small bungalow.

The right to buy scheme should’ve been a massive success story yet it is met with animosity from many, especially those who missed out and feel that a ladder was pulled up by those who purchased their homes. The scheme has already ended in Scotland (2016) and in Wales (2019) with discounts still on offer in England and in Northern Ireland. I believe that the scheme should be extended and improved on to rectify the failings from years gone by and one of the policies championed by the Choice Party will be a new rent to buy scheme where we don’t just aim to sell council stock but actually build new stock that is reserved for the scheme to not deplete the existing supply. I also think that it is abhorrent that the view for many years has been to throw council tenants into cramped ageing and at many times, scary housing developments. Call them what you want “Scheme’s” or “estates” but they are certainly past their sell by date. I want to change the current view by offering a multitude of housing options under a rent to buy with Town/city properties being available of course but also offering rural properties either in small villages or in self contained rows/small holdings for those who want to live a rural life. There should also be a variety of properties available with apartments, houses and bungalows all being built to allow as many different lifestyles and households to be accommodated by such a scheme. The party intend to make a start on this even if we don’t hold an elected position with a limited company being formed to act as a housing association who will aim to to offer this scheme to current council tenants to both prove that it works and to get more people on board.

People may want change or they may want to keep paying for an old property that was paid off decades ago to a government that don’t actively want to replace or add to the existing housing stock, it is their Choice after all…..

—— Gordon Stirling, Leader of Choice Party U.K.

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