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Council wants a ten year ban on tenants buying their council house

Perth and Kinross Council want the Government sponsored Right-to-Buy scheme, which enables sitting tenants to purchase council owned properties, suspended for the next ten years in a bid to protect their limited stock. The local authorities are seeking approval for a ‘pressured area’ designation which will suspend the right to buy for tenants living in the area who took out a new tenancy on or after 30 September 2002.

A consultation was held in December last year among the tenants affected by the proposals and the results of this showed that 58% of the respondents were in favour of the plans, while 34% were against them and 8% were undecided. Perth and Kinross Council want the entire local authority area designated as a pressured area with immediate effect. It is hoped that the suspension on right to buy will help ease the pressure on social housing and make sure the situation does not get any worse. Although private investors in the area are consistently organising property insurance quotes on residential properties they intend to let out, the area is still experiencing a huge demand for affordable housing.

Housing and Health Convener, Councillor Peter Barrett, said “The suspension of right to buy through pressured area status would help us preserve the scarce supply of affordable housing to rent in Perth and Kinross. There is far greater demand for social rented and other forms of affordable housing than there is supply throughout the Perth and Kinross area. There are thousands of people in Perth and Kinross who are in housing need and that is why this move is important.”

The council is working very hard to increase the amount of affordable housing available in Perth and Kinross; however, their job is being made very difficult when their social housing stock is being sold. The council have written to all tenants thanking them for taking part in the consultation. The results showed that the vast majority of tenants understand the reasons for this course of action and support the council.

Right to buy scheme virtually disappeared

An astonishing statistic released by homeless charity Shelter reveals that the number of properties now purchased under the right to buy scheme has dropped by over 90% in less than eight years.

Shelter gleaned the figures from their housing data bank and they really do show a dramatic difference. In 2003 over 70,000 homes that were once covered by the cheapest landlord insurance were bought by their former tenants. In 2010 the figure was down to 2.300, a drop of 97%. The figures go some way to explain Prime Minister David Cameron’s assertion at his party conference last week that the Government would do all in its power to increase discounts to encourage more tenants to buy their council homes and at the same time release money for housing associations to fund new building projects.

Campbell Robb, the chief executive of Shelter, was keen to see proof of the Government’s stance saying “Whilst new thinking to tackle our lack of decent, affordable homes is a positive move, it is absolutely critical that any proposals will actually deliver at significant levels to make a real difference. We must ensure the one-for-one commitment to replace right-to-buy homes by building new homes is met, otherwise it will do more harm than good.

“It is also important to recognise that the new right to buy scheme is a small measure and will only benefit a limited number of people. On its own, it will not deliver the quantity of new homes that we need to meet the growing need. The government’s new housing strategy now needs to set out a long term sustainable plan to end the squeeze on families who can’t find a decent affordable home.”

Shelter also revealed that on average, in 2010, housing associations put their rents up three times more than local councils. Association rents going up by £4.40 while council rents went up by just £1.31.