The Right to Buy is becoming a political hot potato in Brighton and Hove

The Brighton Argus through its local government reporter, Joel Adams, has done us a favour by getting information through a Freedom of Information Act request on Right to Buy in Brighton an Hove.

Over the last ten years, 418 homes were sold outright through the Right to Buy, and a further 499 were leased to Brighton and Hove Seaside Community Homes.

In justifying the extension of Right to Buy to housing associations, the government has promised a one for one replacement programme of homes sold. Over the last ten years, just 46 homes were build to compensate for the hundreds that have been sold. Almost half of homes sold through the Right to Buy end up in the private rented sector with rents four times the rents charged when they were social housing.

I can’t say that I have ever been a big fan of the Right to Buy. I had an Opinion column in the Argus in 2015 that asked anyone to tell me why the Right to Buy was morally justifiable, economically sensible, or politically acceptable.

I spoke at the Hove Civic Society in 2015 arguing the need to end, not extend, the Right to Buy.

I wrote in item in the Argus in April 2015 expressing my opposition to the Right to Buy. I wrote: “The Right to Buy doesn’t help private renters.  It doesn’t help people on council waiting lists.  It doesn’t help young people living with their parents. It does nothing to address affordability.  The £11.6 billion subsidy could achieve so much more.”

Julia Hartley-Brewer is not, as far as I am aware, a paid up and active member of Momentum. She summed up her concerns about extending the Right to Buy to tenants of housing associations: “Financially speaking, the scheme is nonsensical. Practically speaking, it is close to absurd.  When a (housing association or council) home is sold, it is lost forever to future generations”.

It was interesting that in a recent housing statement from the government, reference to extending Right to Buy to housing associations was absent, suggesting that this (one of the government’s ‘Zombie’ policies) was ill-conceived and undeliverable. I have long opposed the extension of the Right to Buy, and BHT was one of the very few housing associations that did not support the ‘voluntary’ extension imposed on housing associations by the government, sadly with the shameful collusion of the National Housing Association (which experienced repetitional damage and is now looking rather ridiculous as a result). I have previously called on the NHF to apologise for its role in this fiasco.

The leader of the Conservative Group on Brighton and City Council, Cllr Tony Janio, is someone who I like and have respect for. He brings a passion and rigour to his politics, and is never afraid to say what he thinks. In Tuesday’s Argus, he put up a characteristically bullish defence of the Right to Buy and attacked the Labour and Green parties for their opposition, relying on the figures obtained by the Argus, to “mock” (according to the Argus) the “moaning” of Labour over this policy.

Labour and the Greens proposed the suspension of the Right to Buy at a Council meeting in December.  The motion was proposed by Labour Cllr Clare Moonan.

I don’t take a party political view on the Right to Buy. I think it just wrong, economically and morally. On this matter Cllr Janio and I could not disagree more. While he may be right on many things, he is wrong on this, and I believe that it is only a matter of time before the policy will be ended once and for all.

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