SFHA urge first minister to scrap R2B Policy

The Scottish Federation of Housing Association has urged the first minister to scrap the current Right to Buy policy.

The SFHA want the Scottish Executive policy on Right to Buy changed in order to provide a crucial boost to Scotlands dwindling supply of affordable rented housing.

In a letter to the first minister Jack McConnell, the SFHA point out that by excluding the Right to Buy from new council and housing association tenancies, 200,000 houses can be removed from eligibility for the Right to Buy between 2007-12. Additionally, rented housing supply can be further protected by abandoning the extension of the Right to Buy to thousands of housing association properties in 2012.

The letter coincides with the launch of its campaign booklet, Stop the Housing Drain, which calls for changes to be made as soon as possible after the Executive has reported to Parliament on the Right to Buy in 2006.

David Bookbinder, policy co-ordinator at SFHA, says: “The Executive has been making welcome new funds available for new housing development to improve the supply of affordable rented housing, and this upward trend will need to continue. But for every house being built, almost four are being lost, so we need to find additional ways of contributing to future supply.

“By 2012 every homeless household will be entitled to a house, and unless we can protect as much as possible of the stock we have and the stock were building, by 2012 it will be almost impossible for anyone who isnt homeless to get housed.

“Were not calling for the Right to Buy to be scrapped altogether. Our proposals dont involve taking the Right to Buy off tenants who currently have that right in their existing tenancy. What were saying is that from a given date, new council and housing association tenancies should not include the Right to Buy, so people taking up those tenancies will do so in the full knowledge of what the tenancy involves.

“A lot of people including many MSPs dont realise that so much of the new housing the Executive is funding go straight into eligibility for the Right to Buy: we think this is economic madness at a time when decent rented housing is in such short supply. The sooner the law is changed the sooner we can protect new and existing rented housing.”

A spokesperson from Scottish Executive says: “Under housing legislation, by next September the Executive is required to report to the Scottish Parliament on the effect of Right to Buy. The preparatory work for this report has begun and we will be discussing this with interested parties, including SFHA, to ensure that key issues are addressed.

“It is important that organisations such as SFHA contribute to the debate on Right to Buy and any evidence it raises will be considered as part of this statutory report to Parliament. We will consider the merits of cases being made for further adjustments to the Right to Buy policy in the light of the Report.”