Wales politics

Right to Buy ban in Wales needs to be explained, AMs say

Social housing
Image caption The aim of the new policy is to preserve the housing stock

People who live in social housing in Wales must be given clear information about plans to end the right to buy their homes, a report has said.

Legal changes scrapping the scheme are currently going through the Welsh Assembly.

Right to Buy was introduced in 1980 but has led to pressures on the Welsh social housing stock, which has reduced by 45% in that time.

It is hoped ending the policy will help ease housing shortages.

A cross-party group of AMs has been looking at the issue.

Committee chair John Griffiths called on ministers to "take the lead in promoting understanding" of the change.

Ministers said the Bill had "strong provisions" ensuring tenants were made aware of the law and its implications.

Some 139,000 council and housing association homes have been sold since Right to Buy was introduced in 1980.

The Welsh Government hopes ending the policy will reduce pressure on social housing but the Conservatives say Labour ministers have caused the shortages by not increasing the supply of housing.

Tenants will have at least one year to apply to buy homes under the old rules after the bill, promised by Labour at the 2016 assembly election, becomes law.

The ban is expected to come into effect before the next election, in 2021.

Image caption John Griffiths says social housing tenants need clear, consistent information on the new law

Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee chair Mr Griffiths said: "We want the Welsh Government to specify in the Bill exactly what information landlords will be required to provide to their tenants about the changes, and to ensure that it is produced in accessible formats that meets their needs.

"The abolition of the Right to Buy is a significant change in public policy, and the Welsh Government must take the lead in promoting understanding amongst the people who will be affected by this change.

"This means ensuring the right information is provided to tenants when they need it."

A Welsh Government spokesperson welcomed the committee's "support for the general principles of the bill".

"The Bill contains strong provisions to ensure that tenants are made aware of the legislation and its implications at an early stage during the year following royal assent before abolition takes place," the spokesperson said.

"We have developed guidance to go to all tenants to communicate what these changes mean and this will be published for wider consultation."

Communities Secretary Carl Sargeant is due to respond in more detail to the report in an assembly debate later in July.

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