Labour would follow in the footsteps of Wales and Scotland and suspend the Right to Buy scheme, in a move branded ‘out of touch’ by the Tories.
Speaking at the Labour Conference 2016, Teresa Pearce MP, Shadow Housing Minister, said that the right to buy scheme can only make sense in a time of surplus. “In a time of shortage it makes no sense at all,” she said.
Gavin Barwell, Minister for Housing and Planning, quickly took to Twitter to lambast the statement. “Nothing better illustrates how out of touch Labour are with hard-working people than the announcement that they’ll abolish the Right to Buy,” he said.
“We’re determined to replace the additional homes sold on a one-for-one basis, nationally – providing new affordable homes for rent for those who need them,” said Barwell.
According to Barwell, there had been 7,018 starts and acquisitions by June 2016. “This delivers more than a one for one replacement on the 4,369 additional sales since the scheme was reinvigorated in 2012,” he said.
However, data released by the Local Government Authority in August showed that while 12,246 council homes had been sold to tenants in 2015/16, just 2,055 replacements had been started by councils – a drop of 27% on the year before.
The scheme has come under increased scrutiny in recent months, with local councils claiming the current arrangement doesn’t give them the funds to replace housing quickly and effectively.
“We are facing the biggest housing crisis in a generation and the Tories have no answers other than building starter homes for the few,” said Pearce. “We would remove the shackles from local government so they could build the homes of all tenures and infrastructure their communities need.”
Pearce said that Labour would commit to building over a million new homes over the next Parliament with half social housing, and invest in the construction skills to tackle the skills shortage and train up a generation.
PHOTO CREDIT: Peter Whatley