A HOUSING boss has accused the government of “showboating” following its pledge to make it easier for tenants to buy their council home.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced a range of changes to the Right to Buy scheme, which offers council house tenants the chance to purchase their property.
They include increasing the maximum discount for a house from 60 to 70 per cent, which will rise with inflation, and creating new Right to Buy agents who will guide people through the process.
They are also introducing ‘Right to Move’ for social tenants who need to relocate for a job.
But Jon Lord, chief executive of social housing landlord Bolton At Home, said the plans were “more symbolic than they were useful”, and revealed the council had bought back dozens of homes in the past year, which had been originally sold to tenants.
Mr Lord said: “We have done the analysis, which shows it does make a small difference in income to us and Bolton Council, but during the past financial year only seven cases went through at the full discount.
“You have to be a tenant for virtually 40 years before it applies to you.
“It’s ideological — there’s no practical housing policy argument for it, and we don’t expect a massive increase because most tenants won’t be affected. The problems with Right to Buy is that a significant number end up in the private sector and they don’t get the investment they need — people don’t take into account they then have to pay for the maintenance of the property.
“In fact, we have no shortage of demand of people selling their homes back to us — we’ve bought back 50 this year. If we had an unlimited budget we’d buy back hundreds.
“Right to Buy may make sense for individuals, it makes sense for the Government in terms of a showboating policy, but for the housing stock of the borough it’s not sensible.”
Mr Pickles said the policy would help hard-working tenants and give people a sense of pride and ownership in their communities.
He said: “For years, the Right to Buy was slowly strangled, with a miserly cap on discounts killing the prospect of home ownership for most social tenants.
“We don’t think governments should be in the business of vetoing aspiration. That’s why we reinvigorated the Right to Buy.”