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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 January, 2005, 16:31 GMT
Welcome for right-to-buy review
B&B accommodation
Promises on homelessness may be broken, experts warn
Housing associations have welcomed a Scottish Executive pledge to review whether new council tenants should retain the right to buy their homes.

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations argues that too few homes are available for rent.

Chief executive David Orr has warned that ministers are at risk of missing a target of ending homelessness by 2012.

Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm said he was confident they would meet the "extremely ambitious targets".

And he said: "We are going to do a comprehensive report on the right to buy for the Scottish Parliament this year.

Malcolm Chisholm
We think we are on target in terms of our new investments over the next three years
Malcolm Chisholm
Communities Minister
"That means next year we are going to be reviewing this policy and we certainly want to do that in partnership with the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, local authorities and others."

Mr Chisholm said it was "well wide of the mark" to suggest that the right to buy would be scrapped completely.

But he said: "What we are talking about is the right to buy for people in new tenancies.

"That is what the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations is asking us to look at - that is certainly what we will look at as part of our report on the right to buy to the Scottish Parliament next year."

The minister's comments were welcomed by Tony Hutson, the federation's campaigns officer.

Welcome step

He said: "It's the first time a minister in the executive has publicly agreed that the policy needed to be reviewed.

"Previously indications from the executive have always been that the right to buy, introduced by Mrs Thatcher in 1981 and modified only slightly by the Scottish Executive in 2001, was not open for negotiation or discussion.

"This announcement is an extremely welcome step and we will be very keen to meet with the minister at the earliest opportunity to tell him precisely why this policy should be scrapped."

There is a crisis in the housing market
David Orr
Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
The federation's chief executive had earlier written to First Minister Jack McConnell raise his concerns that the target to eradicate homelessness may not be yet.

Mr Orr said too few homes were available for rent because they were being bought by tenants.

He described the right to buy as "politically, socially, economically, the most stupid policy of our times".

He said: "We think it's stupid. It just doesn't make sense to be selling off what available rented housing we have.

"There is a crisis for people in the housing market between those who are not well enough off to access owner occupation and people who are slightly better off than the poorest in our society ands who do still manage normally.

Achieve targets

"But in the big sector in the middle there is not enough good quality affordable rented housing."

Mr Chisholm said he was confident the executive would achieve its targets on homelessness.

He added: "We think we are on target in terms of our new investments over the next three years.

"But we obviously have to look very radically at all the steps to take to 2012."

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