UK Politics

Right to Buy take-up almost doubles

Tower blocks in west London
Image caption Critics claim increasing funding for Right to Buy will worsen the shortages in social housing

More than 2,000 tenants took up the government's Right to Buy discount scheme for social housing in England during the last three months of 2012.

This represents a near-doubling of the figure for the previous three months.

Under the coalition's extended Right to Buy programme, launched last year, tenants get discounts of up to £75,000.

Ministers say this will help reinvigorate the market but opponents argue it will reduce rental stock for people on low incomes.

Altogether, 2,009 households took up the scheme from October to December last year, up from 1,041 in July to September.

The figure for April to June - the first period under the new scheme - saw 443 sales, the Department for Communities and Local Government said.

Right to Buy first started under Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government, but take-up dwindled as the discounts offered failed to keep pace with the rate of property price inflation.

In 2010 the government launched a consultation on "re-invigorating" the right to buy and the £75,000 discount, introduced last year, represents a quadrupling of the previous discount cap in London and a trebling in most parts of Britain.

The scheme now offers discounts of up to 60% for the value of a house and 70% for a flat. These apply to people who have been council or social housing tenants for at least five years.

Housing minister Mark Prisk said Right to Buy had "opened the door to home ownership for thousands of tenants across the country".

"I'm delighted to see so many taking up this opportunity," he added.

"But from the 200,000 visitors on our website, to the councils that report to me the surge they've seen in applications, I know there are many more that want to follow in their footsteps."

He urged tenants interested in buying their home to get in touch with their council or visit the Right to Buy website.

However, opponents say selling properties will reduce the rental housing stock available for those on low incomes.

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