Union unearths flaws in government’s flagship policy, saying it contributes to housing crisis


UCATT has unearthed fundamental flaws in the government’s flagship policy designed to reinvigorate the Right to Buy.

The flaws are detailed in the union’s submission to the Department of Communities and Local Government’s consultation, Reinvigorating the Right To Buy.

The government’s principal proposals are that they will reinvigorate the housing market and the Right to Buy scheme by increasing the discounts available when tenants buy their properties. The money will then be used to build replacement homes.

However the replacement pledge only covers additional homes sold under the Right to Buy scheme and not the nearly 12,700 properties the government had already estimated would be sold under the current arrangements between 2011-15. The receipts generated from these sales will not be used to build replacement homes.

UCATT general secretary Steve Murphy said: “The government’s claims that they will replace existing homes being sold under Right to Buy, with new properties has been exposed as a shoddy scam. At a time when housing need is at crisis levels, nearly 13,000 homes will be sold before a single additional property is built.”

The union’s consultation response is also highly critical of the fact that there will be no guarantee that councils who are forced to sell council properties under the revised Right to Buy scheme, will be able to use those receipts to build new homes. Instead the money is likely to be placed in a central pot and then allocated to councils best placed to bid for additional funding.

Steve Murphy said: “If councils are forced to sell off their housing stock, the very least they can expect is to be given those funds to provide new homes for local residents in housing need. Given the actions of previous Conservative administrations we have legitimate concerns that these proposals will lead to gerrymandering, social engineering and herald the return of the rigged housing rules of  the 1980s and 90s .”

With over 1.8 million people on housing waiting lists and 40 families chasing every new home, UCATT is calling on the government to provide large additional sums to build new council and social housing for social rent.

Major investment in social housing would reduce the growing homelessness crisis and ensure that thousands of skilled construction workers return to work. This would reduce benefit payments, increase tax revenues and help to restore confidence in the construction industry.

However as part of the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review announced in October 2010, the budget for building social housing is being slashed by 60% by 2015.

Steve Murphy said: “Not only does the government need to reverse its cuts in building new social housing but it needs to provide additional investment. This will reduce the misery of homelessness and help get skilled construction workers back to work and kickstart the economy.”

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