Page last updated at 11:05 GMT, Thursday, 14 January 2010

Scottish government right to buy laws unveiled

house building
Ministers said they were building new affordable homes

The Scottish government has published planned new laws to abolish the right to buy for all new council and social housing tenants.

Ministers said the policy, introduced by Margaret Thatcher's government, had had its day, and action was needed to tackle shortages in rented housing.

The measure forms a key part of the proposed Housing Bill, being brought before parliament.

The Tories branded the move an act of "naked political vandalism".

The Scottish government said 500,000 homes had been sold in Scotland since the introduction of right to buy in the early 80s, but in recent years councils have been forced to suspend the policy as their stock of social housing to rent has dwindled.

Ministers said stopping all new tenants from buying their homes could see up to 18,000 properties retained over 10 years.

Jamie McIvor
Local government correspondent

Moves to end the right to buy for all new tenants - even those in older accommodation - undoubtedly ends a chapter.

Existing tenants will still be able to buy their homes in many areas.

But, increasingly, the distinction between social housing and private housing is likely to become clearer again, with those who aspire to stepping onto the property ladder once again having to move home.

At the same time, the government said its three-year, £1.5bn investment scheme would deliver about 2,000 new affordable homes.

Communities minister Alex Neil, said: "The Housing Bill is a major piece of legislation that will increase the supply of affordable housing and improve the quality of housing in all sectors."

But Conservative MSP David McLetchie said right to buy had done more to make housing affordable for working people in Scotland than any other policy.

He said of the government plans: "It is little short of naked political vandalism.

"Alex Salmond wants to deny the great benefits of right to buy to the next generation, who will have fewer chances to own their home because of the current limits on mortgage lending.

"It makes no sense to stop people buying their own homes at a modest discount whilst, at the same time, spending millions on other home ownership schemes."

Deputy Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said ministers should be providing enough cash to build more homes, rather than "tinkering" with right to buy.

"This legislation is also a massive missed opportunity to deal with the difficulties Scots face getting an appropriate home that is appropriate to their needs and close to family and friends," she said.

"It is time that the Scottish government started to deal with these very real problems."

The Housing Bill, which has been backed by the Liberal Democrats, also aims to beef up protection for tenants through a new housing regulator, and sets out measures for taking action against rogue landlords.

And the legislation would also allow former armed forces veterans to establish "local connections", to boost their chances of access to social housing in their area.

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