The Liberal Democrat Group on B&NES Council has spoken out against the government’s proposed Housing Bill, which includes a new right to buy for housing association tenants.
At a recent full Council meeting, the Lib Dems called for the Council and local MPs to oppose the proposals and for the Council’s concerns to be raised at Parliament.
Councillor Cherry Beath (Combe Down), the Liberal Democrat housing and planning spokesperson, commented: “Most people aspire to own their own home, and we believe in supporting people on the journey to home ownership.
“However, the government’s proposed right to buy for housing association tenants is not fair. This will benefit a lucky few, but the options for the many with nowhere to live will all but disappear.
“This proposal will lead to longer waiting lists for homes and fewer social houses available to those in need.
“The right to buy system is also open to abuse, with a high percentage of housing ending up in the private rented sector. This is said to be as high as around 40% nationally.
“Another serious cause for concern is the potential that councils will end up footing the bill for the scheme.
“Although there is little detail available so far, the government has stated that councils will be required to sell their most expensive housing to build new houses on a 1:1 basis and to compensate housing associations.
“B&NES holds no council housing, so what other assets will we be forced to sell? Council properties are mainly city centre shops and heritage buildings.
“These buildings generate income and pay for vital public services for all residents as well as keeping Council tax down. It would be unthinkable and illogical to sell them.
“The Conservative Group attempted to divert attention from these issues with an amendment apparently cribbed from a Conservative HQ communique, however even they were clearly concerned and called for clarification of how the replacement scheme will be funded.
“Extending the Right to Buy for Housing Associations will cost billions nationally – money which could be far better spent on building truly affordable housing that Britain needs.”