The author, Mike Rees, says removing the right to buy will mean that social housing tenants are ‘locked into’ an assured tenancy.
But no one in Wales is ‘locked into’ their current tenancy. If this was the case there would be no relets. In fact in Wales social landlords have approximately 15,000 new lettings per year.
This figure is decreasing and that is partly due to Right to Buy. The evidence, which is dependent on property size, shows that tenancies turn over typically every seven years.
Rees then claims that those tenants whose incomes rise are still able to ‘enjoy the rent subsidy’. But of course council housing in Wales is only ‘subsidised’ in the sense that rents are below market value.
In Wales, council housing has long paid ‘negative’ subsidy to the Treasury, which means it more than covers its costs. But RTB gives a huge subsidy through the discount scheme. It can’t be claimed that council rents are ‘subsidised’ because they are below market value without also agreeing that RTB is hugely ‘subsidised’ through sales at less than market value.
If Rees were correct, and tenants have received subsidised rents, why give them even more, simply to encourage them to buy?
Rees then worries that the ongoing obligation to manage and repair homes is a ‘cost to the taxpayer’. This, too, is nonsense. Council housing in England has been self-financing since 2012 and in Wales since 2015. Before last year Welsh councils were paying the Treasury £70 million per year.
This means, ironically, that tenants were in fact subsiding the taxpayer, not the other way around. For those of you that like to see the detail, check it out in CIH’s annual UK Housing Review 2016 (table 77).
What we do not want in Wales is to repeat the experiences in England!
For every five homes sold under RTB in England, only one is being built as a replacement. It is vital we are protecting our precious social housing stock in Wales and CIH Cymru absolutely supports the legislation to end the Right to Buy and Acquire.
Unlike Mike Rees, we are confident that it will improve the supply of affordable homes, not reduce it.