The intention behind the Government’s Affordable Housing Policy is to provide housing at subsidised rents for those unable to buy or rent property at market prices.
The current system allows qualifying tenants the added right to buy their property, similar to the provisions for council housing stock, at a discount and to reflect previous rental payments.
One of the arguments to remove right to buy is because social housing stock has fallen by 45% resulting in people waiting longer for a home.
But to remove the right to buy will mean that social housing tenants are then locked into an assured tenancy. This, to all intents and purposes, cannot be ended other than under very special circumstances and will therefore continue indefinitely at a subsidised rent linked to CPI/ RPI.
This policy helps those on limited incomes, but if those incomes then rise because of career progression for example, they are still able to occupy that property and enjoy the rent subsidy.
This ‘stock blocking’ of the system then denies those in real need. That’s where the focus needs to be in terms of freeing up properties for those who need it most.
But to allow someone to stay in a property indefinitely means more and more homes will need to be built over and above that what’s required.
Look at any Council Estate and It is easy to spot those properties where a right to buy has been exercised. They tend to be improved, well looked after and reflect a sense of social responsibility and pride that comes with ownership.
Moreover the obligations for the ongoing maintenance and repairs to those homes, no longer becomes a cost to the taxpayer. This is money that can be then used to build the proposed 20,000 new affordable homes during the current Government term.
Right to buy continues in England and it seems unfortunate that choice should not be also available in Wales.