A town planning expert from Birmingham City University has warned that reviving the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme is simply a cynical way of recruiting a new class of Tory voters.
Alister Scott, Professor of Environment and Spatial Planning at Birmingham City University, said: “Housing associations will lose their stock and then local authorities will lose their highest price stock of council housing, having to provide money for new buildings. This is a double whammy and bad news for the provision of social housing.”
He added: “Past history has shown that the replacements will not keep up with the losses and the spatial impact of where these houses are lost will be significant and will worsen the housing waiting lists.”
The government’s plans to expand ‘Right to Buy’ discounts to 1.3m housing association tenants has been met with derision by some, but in last week’s Queen’s Speech it was confirmed that eligible tenants would be given the right to buy their homes. As a result, councils will be required to sell off high-value properties and invest the proceeds into building affordable ones.
Professor Scott also believes some of the government’s other main housing pledges are doomed to failure. “David Cameron’s recent pre-election pledge for 200,000 new discounted houses is what I would call a ‘Ryanair approach to housing’, reducing basic services to a minimal level,” he said.
“Housing needs essential services and infrastructure to build communities and these are not optional extras. The Right to Buy extension in the housing bill is more about creating a new class of Tory voters, rather than a series of coherent measures to deal with the housing crisis. It actually will add to the problem and lead to a sell off of stock in areas where there is acute need.”