Wales politics

Right-to-buy housing scheme faces abolition in Wales

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Media captionLesley Griffiths says the move will protect the stock of social housing

Social housing tenants in Wales could lose the right to buy their homes if Labour wins the 2016 assembly election.

A flagship policy of Margaret Thatcher, it faces abolition by ministers who say they want to protect the stock of social housing for those who need it.

In the meantime, the maximum discount under the right-to-buy scheme is set to be cut from £16,000 to £8,000.

The scheme will also be immediately suspended in Carmarthenshire due to local housing shortages.

The Welsh Conservatives' shadow housing minister Mark Isherwood described the move as "an anti-aspiration, nanny-state-knows-best decision which limits housing supply and denies people in council properties the choice and power to buy their council house".

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Image caption The King family in Milton Keynes were among the first to receive the deeds to their council house

Right-to-buy, one of the Thatcher government's most popular policies, was blamed by critics for reducing the stock of social housing.

More than 130,000 houses in Wales have been bought under right-to-buy, for council tenants, and right-to-acquire, for housing association tenants, since 1980.

In 2003, the maximum discount in Wales was cut from £24,000 to £16,000.

Most social housing tenants in Wales currently have the right to buy their home once they have been renting it for five years.

But, since 2008, annual sales in Wales have been in the low hundreds.

'Languish'

Housing Minister Lesley Griffiths said she wanted to "protect social housing stock for people who really need it".

"Some of those houses have been bought through right-to-buy and ended up in the private rented sector," she said.

"I want to ensure that people who require social housing don't have to languish on waiting lists for a long period of time."

In England, where the maximum discount has been increased to up to £75,000, sales have risen sharply over the past three years.

Meanwhile the Scottish government is ending right-to-buy.

'Home of our own'

Pauline Barnett from the West Cross estate in Swansea bought her council house in 1982.

"As soon as we moved in we put in to buy it - it was something we always wanted to do.

"It was nice to have something we had which belonged to us, and we could do what we wanted.

"We've had double glazing put in, central heating, a conservatory and we had fitted wardrobes in the front bedroom.

"It was something we owned and it was ours."

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