Thursday, 28 May 2015

Extending right to buy is not a viable solution to the housing crisis.

As part of the slate of legislation put before parliament in the Queen's Speech the government proposes to extend the 'right to buy' to allow 1.3 million tenants of housing associations to purchase their homes.

Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday Communities and Local Government Secretary Greg Clark said 'the policy we are announcing in the Queen's Speech is very clear, every property that is sold will be replaced, so the housing stock is being expanded and people can achieve the aspiration that most of us want to own our own homes.'

The Green Party opposes the extension of 'right to buy' and in March Jason Kitcat, the party's former leader in Brighton and Hove told the Guardian "Right to buy represents the biggest privatisation programme this country has ever seen. It's absolutely perverse that homes built for those on the lowest incomes are now owned by private landlords letting them at full rates."

During the general election campaign party leader Natalie Bennett said "We need to move away from thinking of homes primarily as financial assets and go back to thinking of them as safe places to live. We have seen a huge rise in many parts of the country where people are really struggling to survive to pay the rent. We've lost 1.5 million homes to 'Right to Buy' ... When you travel around the country you see from the train how many brownfield sites there are, particularly in the north and the Midlands, and there are also 700,000 empty homes to bring back into use. So much development has been focused on London and the South East. That's why we're opposed to building HS2, which would focus even more development, people and money on London. We need to build strong regional economies all around the country."

The 'right to buy' will do noting to address the housing crisis in the UK, many of the 1.3 million people eligible under the government scheme will be unable to get a mortgage and the plans does nothing to help the 1.8 million families currently on council housing lists and living in temporary accommodation and Bed and Breakfasts.

The Green Party fought the general election on a manifesto promising to build 500,000 new homes for 'social rent' and bring 700,000 empty properties back into use. They also proposed introducing five year tenancies, capping rents in line with the consumer price index and setting up a Living Rents Commission to investigate ways of reducing rents.

The government's plans to extend 'right to buy' have attracted criticism from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, who said it would cost 'billions of pounds' and could potentially 'worsen the UK's underlying public finance position.'

The National Housing Federation warned that is could further reduce the amount of social housing available, saying that since 2012 only 46% of social housing sold of has been replaced.

A spokesperson for North Staffs Green Party said ' Mr Clark's comments show that he and the government of which he is part clearly do not understand the potential impact of their own policy', going on to say that, 'extending right to buy could have a devastating impact on a city like Stoke-on-Trent where many families are struggling to make ends meet on the minimum wage.'

Adding that 'the Greens are the only party that fully understands the magnitude of the housing crisis and put forward credible policies to address it.'

The Green Party in North Staffordshire will be closely monitoring housing developments in the region and calling for more social housing to be included as a requirement for planing permission to be granted.

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