Monday, 22 October 2007

Scrapping 'right to buy'

According to the Daily Record, the SNP administration of the regional assembly in Edinburgh (sorry, Scottish Government as they now call themselves - och the noo, up yir kilt Jimmy)is planning to abolish the 'right to buy' for council and housing association homes.

I believe firmly that it is misguided. Yes, the system is abused. Yes, there is a shortage of affordable housing in many areas which has to be addressed. However, it is wrong on several counts:

1. The major problem is that single mothers are prioritised. Some girl gets herself pregnant and she is rewarded by a house in perpetuity, paid for by the taxpayer. Meanwhile, decent people on modest incomes who try to earn a living for themselves see no chance of getting on to the private housing ladder, nor any chance of a council house. If we are to solve the problem, we need to crack down on this abuse. By all means, let us have hostels for single mothers, which give them a roof over their heads and a safe environment in which to raise their bastards. But don't reward them with handouts which poor but decent people cannot even dream of.

2. Similar to the above: why are we handing out houses to so-called 'asylum seekers'?
As I wrote on 26 July, "Genuine refugees do not need council houses, social workers, outreach workers or truckloads of welfare benefits. They need a place where they will be safe from their enemies and enjoy three square meals a day. They could get this quite easily whilst locked up in a detention centre"

3. It makes the labour force less mobile, increasingly so since there is such a housing shortage. If I buy my council house (as I did), I can sell up and move to another part of the country if required by my job (as I did). If you do not have the option to buy, you as the tenant may find yourself with two options: (1) Decline an offer of work to continue living on benefits or (2) Accept an offer of work; give up the security of your home and risk ending up homeless if the job doesn't work out.

4. Most people who buy their council houses continue to live in them. In the short to medium-term it makes no difference to the supply of housing whether the houses are bought or rented. In the long-term, the house will be sold, probably for less than the average price of a private house, thereby creating a relatively low-cost opportunity for a new homeowner.

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