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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 December 2007, 10:53 GMT
'Right to buy' could be suspended
Estate Agents
Almost half the original social housing stock has been purchased
The Welsh Assembly Government could suspend the right to buy council homes as part of its bid to tackle the shortfall of affordable housing.

It intends to apply for powers from the UK government to suspend tenants' "right to buy" in some areas, such as in rural Wales.

The stock of council homes in Wales has fallen by nearly half since the scheme was introduced in the 1980s.

More than 80,000 people are on waiting lists for social housing in Wales.

The aim is to ensure that people on modest incomes can still find houses to rent in the areas where they live.

Currently, tenants have the right to buy their houses at discounts of up to 16,000.

Rural communities

Deputy housing minister Jocelyn Davies said the assembly government had made a number of commitments to increase affordable housing as part of the One Wales coalition agreement.

The Plaid AM for South Wales East said: "It is a problem that affects areas across Wales, but particularly our rural communities.

"In some communities few properties remain in the social housing stock, making it very difficult for people on modest incomes to find a home.

"I am confident that the steps we are taking now will make a considerable difference to the current situation."

In the draft budget, the assembly government committed to spend 30m over three years to help meet the target of building 6,500 new affordable homes.

Schemes

The request for the right to legislate - known as a Legislative Competence Order (LCO) - will allow the assembly government to bring forward a measure to suspend the right-to-buy scheme on application from local councils in Wales.

According to the assembly government, almost 60% of council housing stock in Powys and Ceredigion has been sold under the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire schemes.

Since the introduction of the Right to Buy (in 1980) and the Right to Acquire (in 1997) over 140,000 houses have been purchased by tenants in Wales, almost half the original social housing stock.

In 1980, there were around 300,000 homes in council ownership, now, that is down to around 156,000.

Councillor Aled Roberts, the leader of Wrexham Council and the Welsh Local Government Association's spokesperson on housing, said the suspension of the right to buy would not be enough.

'Priority cases'

He told BBC Radio Wales that "more far-reaching measures need to be considered" to end the "crisis" in social housing in some parts of Wales.

He said: "An increasing percentage of council house allocations at the moment are taken by priority cases, homeless cases, etc, who being realistic, are not going to be in a position to service a mortgage."

Nick Bennett, chief executive of Community Housing Cymru, which represents housing associations, said the supply of social housing needed to be increased.

He said: "The vast majority of people in Wales do want to own their own home but that isn't a solution for everyone and somebody somewhere has make sure that we can help those who aren't able to buy in a free market."



SEE ALSO
Council tenants vote for change
18 Nov 07 |  South East Wales
Tenants reject housing transfer
21 Mar 07 |  South West Wales
Rent fears over housing transfer
13 Sep 06 |  South West Wales

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