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Friday 23rd
posted by Richard Bagley in Britain

Welsh Labour vows to end the disastrous council stock sell-off

WELSH Labour gave hope to thousands yesterday as it unveiled plans to abolish right to buy, ending 35 years of disastrous council housing sell-offs.

Assembly Communities Minister Lesley Griffiths said the party’s historic proposal was “the only way to protect social housing stock from continuing erosion.”

The Labour white paper sets out initial plans to slash discounts for council and social housing tenants applying to buy their homes from £16,000 to £8,000.

That would be followed by new primary legislation to finally axe a policy which has been responsible for the decimation of low-rent housing stock.

But first Labour would need to win next year’s Assembly elections.

Ms Griffiths said: “Our supply of homes is under considerable pressure and we are still seeing social rented properties being taken out of our social housing stock because of the right to buy, which is forcing many vulnerable people to wait longer for a home.

“Decisive action is needed.”

Welsh Local Government Association housing spokesman Dyfed Edwards welcomed the news.

He said the sales policy had acted as a “considerable disincentive” for new development.

But Tory shadow housing minister for Wales Mark Isherwood moaned that it would deny people “choice and power.”

Nearly 140,000 Welsh homes have been lost to the private sector in the decades since Tory PM Margaret Thatcher launched the scheme.And around 90,000 people are on waiting lists.

Abolition would put Wales on a par with Scotland, which is set to axe right to buy in 2017.

But as the rest of Britain moves to scrap the scheme Tories in Westminster are said to be plotting to extend it in England.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives, which have already increased the maximum right to buy discount from 50 per cent to 70 per cent, are reportedly planning to give housing association tenants a similar right.

Construction union Ucatt general secretary Steve Murphy said the Welsh proposals were “much needed.”

He said: “Rather than increasing discounts to sell off council and housing association homes in England the Conservative-led government should be following the example in Wales and ending right to buy, while also investing in a far higher amount of desperately needed council and social housing.”