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Sunday, May 15, 2016

AM attacks county over halting Right to Buy

Shadow Housing Minister and North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has criticised Denbighshire County Council’s decision to stop people buying their own council houses for five years.

Denbighshire has voted to stop ‘Right to Buy’, following in the footsteps of Anglesey, Flintshire, Carmarthenshire and Swansea councils.
The council has said there were 10 applicants for every vacant council home in the county and right to buy "threatened investment in new homes".

But Mr Isherwood (left) claims the take-up of ‘Right to Buy’ is no longer significant enough for its suspension to reduce housing pressure.

He said: “I believe this is the wrong way forward. Abolishing ‘Right to Buy’ in Denbighshire will deny the prospect of home ownership to tenants and will not in itself increase the supply of affordable housing.

“Further, current legislation only allows Councils to suspend the Right to Buy’ for a limited time in a specified area, which would make a negligible contribution to improving the availability of affordable housing, given findings by leading expert Professor Wilcox that tenants remain in occupation for 15 years on average.

“As the Welsh Affairs Committee found, the suspension of the Right to Buy would not in itself result in an increase in the supply of affordable housing.

“The proposed scrapping of Right to Buy is a smokescreen and would not do anything to create more homes or increase the numbers of households with their own front door.”

Mr Isherwod says Welsh Labour has mounted a sustained attack on ‘Right to Buy’ and  in 2015  halved the ‘Right to Buy’ discounts from £16,000 to £8,000 and signalled its intention to scrap the ‘Right to Buy’ altogether.

He added: “Welsh Conservatives would instead protect the ‘Right to Buy’ for tenants wanting to buy their council home and reinvest ‘Right to Buy’ proceeds into new social housing, providing more homes for more people languishing on Labour’s waiting lists, increasing the number of people who are able to find a home to meet their needs.

“‘Right to Buy’ has already dwindled under Welsh Labour. During 1999-2000, 3590 ‘Right to Buy’ Council Home sales were completed in Wales, rising to 6,865 during 2003-04, but since falling to just 176 in 2014-15.  

“The social housing crisis is the result of Welsh Labour policies, not right to buy. During its first 3 terms in Welsh Government,  Labour cut the supply of new affordable homes by nearly three quarters and slashed the total number of social homes in Wales by nearly 30,000.

"As the 2012 UK Housing Review stated "it was the Welsh Government itself that gave housing lower priority in its overall budgets, so that by 2009/10 it had by far the lowest proportional level of housing expenditure of any of the four UK countries".

“National House Building Council’s figures show that Wales was the only nation in the UK to decrease new homes registrations in 2014-15.  Compared with a 7% increase in the UK overall, Wales is lagging behind with a 2% reduction.”

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