Wales politics

Right to Buy abolition in Wales moves ahead

Housing Image copyright PA

The Welsh Government's bid to end the right of social housing tenants to buy their homes will begin its journey through the assembly on Monday.

A new bill, if passed, will abolish the iconic Thatcher-era policy in Wales.

The Welsh Government hopes the ban will reduce pressure on social housing but the Welsh Tories said problems in the sector were not down to Right to Buy.

Tenants will get at least one year to apply to buy homes under the old rules after the bill becomes law.

Labour had promised it would abolish the Right to Buy as part of its pitch for the May 2016 assembly election.

Since the scheme was introduced in 1980, 139,000 council and housing association homes have been sold - resulting in a 45% reduction in housing stock.

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Media captionWe would be unable to stop a rush on Right To Buy in the run-up to abolition, Carl Sargeant says

To remain compliant with human rights legislation, the Welsh Government will give tenants at least a year to exercise their rights if they want to buy their home.

Councils will also still be able to sell housing stock once the abolition comes into force, but only on a voluntary basis and at the market rate without the discounts that were seen under the compulsory Right to Buy scheme.

The rights will be abolished across the housing sector - including housing associations and council homes.

A number of local authorities have already suspended the scheme in their area.

Communities secretary Carl Sargeant said: "I recognise the proposal affects existing tenants and we will ensure tenants are made aware of the effect of the bill in good time before abolition takes place."

Image caption David Melding said Labour had not built enough affordable homes

Matthew Dicks, director of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: "We have a huge shortage of affordable housing in Wales and CIH Cymru supports any measure that will stop the further loss of social housing stock which is what this bill intends to do."

But he said the main issue was that social housing stock, lost through Right to Buy, had not been sufficiently replaced.

The Welsh Conservatives have long opposed the proposal by the Welsh Government to abolish the scheme.

The party's housing spokesman, David Melding, said: "There is a severe shortage of affordable housing in Wales because Labour hasn't built enough affordable homes, and not because council tenants have had a chance to buy theirs."

Councillor Dyfed Edwards, the Welsh Local Government Association's spokesperson for housing, said the move was "a welcome step in tackling a growing problem in Wales".

Plaid Cymru supports abolishing the Right to Buy, meaning it is unlikely Labour will have trouble getting the law passed by AMs.

A Plaid spokeswoman said: "We welcome the proposed move to scrap it altogether and regret that the Labour Welsh Government has taken so long to abolish this most Thatcherite of policies."

The Welsh Government said it had set a target of creating 20,000 affordable homes during the current assembly term.

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