The Right to Buy

The Right to Buy

The Right to Buy

At a time of housing crisis, when 1.8 million families languish on council waiting lists, how can David Cameron justify a massive £5.8 billion sell-off? — Julia Hartley-Brewer, Daily Telegraph

The Right to Buy was always heralded by the Tories as a success, but it never was, it led us to the housing crisis that we are facing today, with people either being screwed by Rachman landlords (and that includes Housing Associations) or homeless and llving on the streets.

Since the introduction of Right to Buy, more than 271,438 council homes have been lost from the council housing stock in London alone.

In principle, with conditions attached, it was a sensible policy.

If someone living in their Council House, had been allowed to buy at a small discount, remained living in their house, and the money was ploughed back to build more houses, it would have been an excellent scheme.

But the money was not ploughed back into social housing, the tenants were allowed to buy at deep discounts.

But even with those deep discounts, many could not afford the mortgage payments. Property developers are offering tenants the money to buy, they split the profits.

We now have the ludicrous situation where Councils are paying several times what the rents were, to house people in the very same houses that were once council houses.

Tories have put a cap on Housing Benefits, and yet they have created the situation whereby rents are high.

When The Right to Buy ran out of steam, council estates were sold of to Housing Associations, modern-day Rachman landlords accountable to no one. Tenants found they were bullied, rents went up, repairs were not carried out.

Housing Associations are property developers, they build shopping centres, student accommodation, anything they can make money on. Tenants are kicked out of their homes, the land sold for redevelopment.

Tories have now announced the The Right to Buy for Housing Association tenants.

The Sun trumpets on their front page. If backed by The Sun, then it must be bad.

Housing Associations are businesses, up to their neck in debt to the banks, the housing stock is the collateral.

When even the Tory Daily Telegraph describes the scheme announced by David Cameron as economically illiterate and morally wrong we know the scheme to be seriously flawed.

This policy may well be politically tempting to Tory campaign managers, and even more financially tempting to housing association tenants, but that doesn’t stop it being dumb, economically illiterate and – even worse – morally wrong.

But all useless Ed Miliband could do was bleat where is the money coming from?

In essence it means those already housed get a windfall, whereas those not housed get two-fingers.

The scheme will cost £5.8 billion, according to the most conservative estimate by the National Housing Federation. Transference of wealth from society (ie taxpayers and the owners of the housing stock) to private wealth. The opposite of what we should be doing, which is expanding the commons, creating open coops, creating a fairer society.

If tenants can afford the mortgage, they are not the poorest members of society. Tenants could receive a windfall of £100,000 with 70% discount.

If housing is forcibly sold off, that in itself is an incentive not to build more social housing.

If this sell-off of rented housing is such a great idea, then why are we not seeing forced sales in the private sector, with private sector tenants being able to buy from their Rachman landlords at 70% discount of the market price?

When you sell off council housing (and now housing association housing), the housing waiting list grows ever longer.

A sensible Right to Buy would be, small discount, restrictions on when the property can be resold, not for at least ten years, that when sold, any profits are split 50:50 between the new owner and the council, any proceeds made from sales are ploughed back into new housing stock.

Tories have said councils must sell off their most expensive houses, build cheaper inferior houses as a replacement. Forcing councils to sell off their quality housing, (and of course kick out the tenants), is yet another example of social cleansing.

This sell off of social housing will benefit only those who can buy, a small number of people.

It is called bribing voters and should be treated as such. Not only is it bribing voters, it is bribing voters with assets we already collectively own.

It will do nothing to help the homeless, nothing to help those in the private sector, nothing to help those on the housing  waiting list.

The policy has been attacked by Shelter, CBI and Housing Associations.

Meanwhile in London social cleansing is taking place, whole swathes of housing are being demolished, the tenants kicked out, the bulldozed sites to be redeveloped to build expensive property for sale to speculators in the Middle East, Russia and China.

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