18th November 2010

Social housing and the end of ‘right to buy’

I was recently at a Clydesdale Bank conference on social housing which was timed to coincide with the vote by the Scottish Parliament on the right to buy legislation.  The Scottish Parliament voted to end the 1980s legislation.

I am a great believer in social housing, and with the current turmoil in the property market leading to an overheating of the rental market, the role of registered social landlords (RSL) is now more important than ever.

Given the lack of developments and the depreciation in the value of development sites, I would urge the government to find ways of funding the RSLs to enable them to buy sites and start building social housing to assist with the further development of the property market.

During the course of the conference an interesting statistic was highlighted – that for every £1 central government spends on social housing, the economic return is £9 – another important argument in the case for RSLs.

Whilst I would not necessarily have abolished the right to buy, I certainly would advocate that in its place the government allows a ‘right to sell’ to enable RSLs to develop properties and sell some on, which would allow them to raise funds to carry on the development process.

Again, this shows the importance of the property market in the general economic climate and the need for central and Scottish governments to take action and have a clear strategy in respect of the property market.

Lindsay Darroch
Head of Property Services



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