Communities secretary Eric Pickles says Labour councils are keeping their tenants in the dark about the reinvigorated Right-to-Buy scheme offering discounts of up to £75,000 to social tenants wishing to buy their homes.
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, Mr Pickles said that there is “nothing more fundamental than supporting home ownership”, but that Labour council leaders have been fighting tooth and nail against the policy.
The new discounts – which came into effect in April – are made available to two million council tenants and another 500,000 housing association tenants with the ‘Preserved Right-to-Buy’. The Government is using the proceeds to replace each home sold through the programme.
Mr Pickles said: “The-Right-to-Buy gives something back to families who worked hard, pay their rent and play by the rules. Across the country, Margaret Thatcher’s Right-to-Buy has given people a sense of pride and ownership in where they live.
“Sadly, many Labour councils are keeping their tenants in the dark about these new extended rights. Their council leaders have pledged to fight tooth and nail against the Right-to-Buy.
“A right can only be exercised if you know about it. So I can pledge my department will be talking direct to tenants to inform them of their Right to Buy. It’s a great policy to campaign on for May’s local elections. We should tell every tenant in every council estate – that we’re on their side.”
He said the Government was also “tackling discrimination against the armed forces”.
He said: “Amazingly foreign migrants have been given greater priority on housing waiting lists than those who fought for Queen and Country. So we have changed the rules to give armed forces first priority for our first-time buyer and shared ownership schemes.
“And we have given councils new freedoms to allocate social housing to those who have worked hard and given something back to society from the armed forces to community volunteers.”