Friday, 27 June 2014

Burgess ends 'Right to Buy'

Local MSP Margaret Burgess, in her capacity as Scotland’s Housing Minister, has brought about the end of ‘Right to Buy’ legislation, which since 1980 had allowed council tenants to purchase their homes at a discounted price.

Although beneficial to sitting tenants with the capital to buy their homes, Right to Buy also resulted in almost 500,000 houses being taken out of the social rented sector, meaning people seeking to be housed by local authorities and housing associations can now wait for years before one becomes available.

Right to Buy was introduced by the UK Tory Government led by the late Margaret Thatcher who made no secret of her hope that working class people who bought their council houses would vote Tory.

The new Housing (Scotland) Bill, introduced by Margaret Burgess and passed overwhelmingly by the Scottish Parliament last week – only the Tories voted against it – ends Right to Buy and will prevent the sale of up to 15,500 social houses over the next ten years, meaning those properties will be available to people currently waiting on council lists.

The Bill will also establish a private rented sector tribunal, which gives tenants and landlords access to specialist justice and allows them to resolve disputes more effectively. In addition, changes to mobile home site licensing will improve the rights of over 3,000 households, many of whom are elderly, living permanently in mobile or park homes across Scotland.

Other measures include introducing a regulatory framework for letting-agents and giving local authorities new discretionary powers to tackle poor housing conditions in the private sector.

Margaret Burgess said, “Passing the Bill was a historic day for housing as it marks the end of the right to by social housing in Scotland. Stakeholders from across the sector have given this legislation widespread support as they recognise we have put together a package of measures that will help improve housing in the social, private-rented and owner-occupied sectors.”

The SNP MSP for Cunninghame South expressed her gratitude to everyone who had contributed to the Bill during its nine-month passage through the parliamentary process, adding, “But legislation is only one of many actions this Government is taking to improve housing in Scotland. We continue to invest in affordable housing. Earlier this week the First Minister confirmed we have invested £1billion in affordable housing since April 2011, putting us well on track to delivering an additional 30,000 homes across Scotland by March 2016. This investment is supporting 8,000 jobs in each year of the five-year parliamentary term.”

Mrs Burgess noted, “This Bill is a landmark step forward for housing. With the full powers of independence we will have greater control to tailor our grants and housing-supply investment, and to integrate housing and welfare policies to meet the needs of our communities and the homebuilding industry in Scotland.”

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