A leading academic on housing policy has told Holyrood that he cannot see the economic case for ending the right to buy council homes for new council tenants.
Commenting on the proposals, which were introduced to Parliament last month as part of the Housing (Scotland) Bill, Professor Steve Wilcox from York University’s Centre for Housing Policy said: “The idea of abolishing right to buy going forward has very little if anything to commend it – it’s a political choice, fine. But there’s no kind of solid economic housing policy rationale behind it.” Wilcox, who also edits the UK Housing Review, added that in backing calls for ending right to buy, local authorities and housing associations may be setting themselves up for a future of reduced revenue availability.
Of this, he said: “The basic logic is that if you sell three houses now and you reinvested the receipts for that, you could reinvest them in two new dwellings which would give you two new lettings for new households in housing need today or tomorrow.” While Wilcox acknowledged that previous discount levels did impose a “substantial net cost on the public sector”, the level of discount that resulted from changes made following the introduction of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001was “probably about right in terms of balance”.
He urged politicians to consider the fact that whether a home is owned or rented, it still fulfils a housing need and added that the new proposals fail to deal with tenants who still qualify for discounts of up to 60 per cent on their homes under the pre-2001 right to buy.
“If Scotland was going to do anything, it ought to be looking at imposing a cap on the discounts for pre-2001 tenants, rather than thinking about abolishing it for new tenants going forward,” he said