Thousands of people will benefit from improved access to social housing thanks to plans announced today by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Up to 15,000 social houses will be protected from sale over the next decade with the final ending of Right to Buy (RtB). This will safeguard social housing stock for future generations, helping to build more cohesive and sustainable communities.
As a result of previous reforms to RtB and suspensions in pressured areas, the right to buy is already unavailable to many social housing tenants.
However, any social housing tenant who still has the right to buy will have a period of three years to exercise it following royal assent of the Housing Bill, expected in Autumn 2014.
The Scottish Government will continue to assist people into home ownership through a range of shared equity schemes.
Making the announcement on a visit to Queens Cross Housing Association in Glasgow, Ms Sturgeon said:
“It is absolutely vital that people can access social housing when they need it most. Social housing is under significant pressure and so too are the budgets that support it.
“The Scottish Government is doing everything possible to maximise our investment in housing and deliver on our target of 30,000 new, affordable homes over the lifetime of this Parliament. But, given the pressure on both the housing stock and budgets – and with 400,000 people on waiting lists for social housing – we can no longer afford to see badly needed homes lost to the social sector.
“That is why I am today announcing the final stage of the abolition of the Right to Buy – a decision that will safeguard Scotland’s social housing stock for the benefit of citizens today and for our future generations.
“Tenants who currently have a right to buy will have a period of three years from the date of royal assent of the Housing Bill in which they will be able to exercise that right – but after that date it will no longer be possible to buy social houses.
“This will mean that social houses will always be available for long term rent, helping to ease pressure on the social rented stock.
“More than 450,000 houses have already been sold through right to buy and although the policy has been restricted in recent years, its final abolition will safeguard an estimated 15,000 homes over the next decade.
“Notwithstanding our decision to end the right to buy, which has been fully consulted on, the Government remains committed to helping people buy their own homes and our shared equity schemes are helping – and will continue to help – thousands of people get a foot on the property ladder.”
Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland welcomed the announcement that the Right to Buy was being scrapped which he said had no place in Scotland’s housing landscape.
He said: “Around half a million public sector homes have been sold off in Scotland since the policy was implemented. Meanwhile, 157,000 families and individuals are today stuck on council waiting lists for a home to call their own.
“Shelter Scotland has long-campaigned for the abolition of Right to Buy and praises the Scottish Government on their decision to protect existing and future council house stock in a bid to address Scotland’s chronic housing shortage.”
Andy Young, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations Policy and Membership Manager said he was delighted the policy was to end, and added:
“Right to Buy has had its day and has no place in 21st Century Scotland.
“The SFHA and its members have campaigned for this for years and we thank the Scottish Government for listening closely to the arguments for abolition which we put forward.”
Queens Cross Housing Association, Chief Executive, Shona Stephen said:
“We welcome the Scottish Government’s decision to end the Right to Buy. There is huge demand and pressure on existing Queens Cross Housing Association housing stock with over four times as many people waiting for a house as we have houses to let each year.
“The continued loss of stock due to Right to Buy would only see this get worse, particularly in times of increasing financial hardship and the impact of Welfare Reform starting to bite.”