CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Right to buy has become a perk for the higher earner

25 November, 2021

• HAVING read Linda Evans letter (I support the Right to Buy scheme, November 19), I would like to offer these observations.

Most council homes are at least in part housing subsidised in construction and, for those residing in them, by everyone that pays council tax in the borough.

Prior to Margaret Thatcher’s huge extension of the Right to Buy and restrictions on councils’ ability to build, there was a possibility for anyone on a low income to obtain a flat, or house if they met the criteria.

Now the criteria only really includes those people with children and those considered vulnerable.

Those on low incomes who do not fulfil this criteria but who have no other option but to rent in the vastly inflated private market, continue to subsidise those in council housing, through their own payment of council tax.

Council housing sold is then lost to the local authority and its council tax payers, who then, through their council tax, need to pay more to find/construct new homes for those in future need, while the person who has bought the local authority home has a valuable asset to sell in a private market and/or, to leave as an inheritance.

They have also bought the home at a discount, a discount the council tax payer will again subsidise.

I note that there is currently an ex-local authority flat offered for private sale in Primrose Hill Court for £635,00.

There is a case made that discounts to Right to Buy are offered on the basis that rent has been paid and this is part of the reason for the discount (even though repairs, redecoration and upgrades such as new kitchens and windows have been undertaken at no charge during the tenure).

If someone in this same block as is currently for sale should now exercise their right to buy, what should they pay?

Let’s say for argument’s sake that the people renting have paid £150 per week and lived at the address for 20 years. This equals £156,000. I’m not sure what the discount offered would be but again, for argument’s sake, should it be all of that £156,000?

So the flat owner(s) should then have to pay £479,000 for their Right to Buy property, but do they?

I think most council taxpayers would wonder how someone who could raise a mortgage of £479,000 had gotten social housing in the first place. Most people on low incomes struggle to raise £200,000.

I think most people accept that their council tax should in part be used to help “level up” an unequal society, by providing genuinely affordable housing to those who need it, but not that their money should be used to subsidise private gain

DAVID, NW1
Name and address supplied

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