Andy Burnham: Suspend the ‘Right to Buy Scheme’ to Help Housing Crisis

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham is putting pressure on the government to suspend the ‘right to buy scheme’ that has allowed people to buy their council house for a discounted rate. 

Housing Crisis “Getting Worse Every Year”

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Featuring on a radio show, Mr Burnham said,  “We lose social homes every year, and across Greater Manchester for the last year, 500 social homes were lost.

Burnham Wants Suspension to Rebuild Social Housing Stock

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“I’m saying to Whitehall and Westminster – you need to allow us to suspend Right to Buy from the new homes that we are building because if we don’t, trying to solve the housing crisis is like trying to fill a bath but with the plug out because you try and build new homes but you lose them at the other end.”

Election Pledge to Build More

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One of Burnham’s pre-election pledges was to build 10,000 social homes across Greater Manchester to address the region’s housing crisis.

1,000 Homes per Borough

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Greater Manchester consists of 10 boroughs, and the plan to build 10,000 social houses will start with 1,000 in each borough. 

Issues All Across Greater Manchester

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Mark Slater from Greater Manchester Tenants Union said, “In Rochdale, for example, we have between 23,000 and 24,000 people on waiting lists, some of whom have been waiting for five years, so to call it a crisis is putting it mildly.”

Slater Also in Support of a Suspension

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Working with the problem daily has given Mr Slater an insight into the scale of the issue. He is supporting Andy Burnham’s call for a suspension, saying the Right to Buy Scheme has impacted social housing stocks “quite dramatically”.

Government Against the Idea

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The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said it “remained committed to Right to Buy, which had helped over two million social housing tenants to become homeowners”.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Defends Reasons

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A spokesman said: “Through our long-term plan for housing we are building the homes the country needs, including additional social housing, and we have delivered over 696,100 new affordable homes, of which over 172,600 are for social rent, since 2010.”

Proceeds of Social Housing Sales Can Be Reinvested Into Building

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They also said: “Local authorities oversee this [Right to Buy] process and can use money from sales and preferential borrowing rates to build new homes.”

Figures Sound Impressive, but Don’t Make a Dent

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Housing charity Shelter says on their website: “In the 1960s, 1.24 million social homes were built compared to 150,000 in the 2010s. In 1969, we built more social rent homes than we have built in the last 12 years combined.”

Housing Crisis Is a Long Term Issue

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The reality is that this isn’t a recent issue—it has been present and growing for decades. Subsequent governments haven’t done enough to address the problem each year. 

Available Housing Stock Used for Private Renting

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The figures show that while the amount of social housing has been steadily reducing, the amount of property available for private renting has steadily increased. Now, the public, rather than the government, is becoming a landlord.

Private Renting Can Be Problematic

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Private landlords often charge far more than the government for rent. There’s also the issue of criteria—many landlords won’t rent to local authority tenants, reducing the housing stock even further. 

Desperation Forces Many to Poor Housing

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In some cases, tenants are so desperate to find somewhere to live that they accept substandard properties that don’t comply with basic building and safety standards. Issues can include leaks, mould, and lack of adequate heating. 

Plan to Bring Private Rented Accommodation up to Scratch

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Burnham also plans to introduce a ‘Greater Manchester Good Landlord charter’ to raise the standards of private rents. He said: “We are going to give our residents the right to request a property check if they are concerned their home is unfit or unsafe.”

Release of Brownfield Land Under Debate

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Labour has made several calls to release brownfield land for housing development. This would allow the building of hundreds of thousands of new affordable homes, and it has also become a pre-election pledge by Labour.

Social Housing Is Needed – How We Get There Is the Issue

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Both sides of the house accept there’s a housing crisis. Whilst both parties are pledging to build more, Burnhams request for a suspension of sales makes sense. It’ll allow local authorities to rebuild stocks of social housing.

Suspension, Not Cancellation

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Suppose the government enables a large-scale house-building program. In that case, there’s no reason why the shortfall could be significantly impacted within three years. It won’t be solved, but several hundred thousand homes could reduce the shortfall in social housing.

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The post Andy Burnham: Suspend the ‘Right to Buy Scheme’ to Help Housing Crisis first appeared on Edge Media.

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