Leaders from the social housing sector including the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) and Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers (ALACHO) have today welcomed the end of the right to buy policy in Scotland and said its demise came “not a moment too soon”. SFHA and ALACHO among others have long campaigned for the policy to be curbed or ended in order to preserve much needed council and housing association homes for rent.
The Scottish Government have set a target of 50,000 new affordable homes over the next five years to meet existing and future housing needs, and local authorities and housing associations across Scotland are combining their efforts to meet this target. Although some social landlords reported an increase in the number of applications from tenants wishing to exercise their right to buy before the 31 July deadline, sector leaders recognise that the ending of the right to buy marks a sea change in the availability and access to genuinely affordable and high quality rented housing for everyone.
Mary Taylor, SFHA Chief Executive, said: “We are 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.
“Although particular individuals have benefitted from the right to buy and at significant discounts, the sales have been at a loss to the greater public good. Half a million social rented homes have been lost over the three decades of this policy in Scotland, and very often the better stock in the more popular areas.
“The SFHA and its members have campaigned for the abolition of this right for years, and we appreciate the Scottish Parliament’s recognition in 2013 of the arguments which we put forward.
“By ending the right to buy, we will be able to preserve much needed social housing stock for rent that is affordable to people on low incomes.
“SFHA highlighted the very same arguments in the ‘Thatcher Room’ at Portcullis House at Westminster when it gave evidence to the Communities and Local Government Committee in December 2015 on what lessons England could learn from Scotland’s move to end RTB.”
Commenting on the end of right to buy, Tony Cain Policy Manager at ALACHO said “Ending the right to buy will allow social landlords to plan longer term, manage assets and income more effectively and most importantly to invest to increase the number of social rented homes for the first time since 1981.
“That means more long term jobs and apprenticeships to maintain our homes and more households taken out of housing need and living in warm, dry and genuinely affordable housing”.
Local authorities and housing associations across Scotland have been impacted by the operation and legacy of the right to buy policy.
Grampian Housing Association [case study attached] highlighted that there is a significant lack of affordable housing in the North East, and right to buy no doubt contributed to this, stripping away the supply of amenity bungalows and family sized houses in areas of high housing demand.
Reflecting on the impact and legacy right to buy has had on Grampian Housing Association, Neil Clapperton, Chief Executive said: “Demand continues to far outweigh supply and waiting lists are in the thousands.
“Our greatest concern is with the legacy issues arising from the RTB for the stock transfer property/estates.
“The abolition of the RTB is just a case for us of “closing the gate after the horse is bolted” and does not really deal with the legacy issues.”