New right to buy shock for council tenants

Ministers announced plans to make tenants wait for five years before putting in an application to buy

This closely follows the Government's decision to slash the amount of cash help available to purchasers from the previous maximum of £38,000 to just £16,000,

The Council say this has had the effect of putting home ownership in the borough beyond the reach of the vast majority of Putney's council tenants.

Now deputy prime minister John Prescott is rushing through new measures that will extend the qualification period from two years to five. For the first time there will also be new powers to claw back from council tenants any increases in the value of their property after they have purchased.

Currently if a tenant sells within three years of purchasing a proportion of the discount has to be repaid. Now Mr Prescott intends to extend the clawback period to five years and base the amount repaid on the resale value of the property. This means that a tenant who sold after four years would have to pay back 20 per cent of any increase in value - rising to 80 per cent if they sold after one year.

Council leader Edward Lister said the government was conducting a vendetta against council tenants:
"What have ministers got against council tenants? It's as if this is the only group of people who can't be allowed to share in the full benefits of home ownership that others take for granted.

"Even the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has had to spell out recently the social benefits to a community when tenants become home-owners.

"Our experience over 25 years in Wandsworth has been that the prospect of owning one's own home is one that appeals to all sections of society including the young and those from ethnic minority communities.

"Right to Buy was probably the most 'inclusive' social policy ever devised. It helped people from all backgrounds to acquire a real stake in their communities. Its effective abandonment will come to be seen as a woefully shortsighted and regressive act of social

Councils have been given until June 9 to respond to the proposed changes which will be included in the Housing Bill.

Right to buy application forms are available for personal visitors from the home ownership unit reception in the town hall - or over the telephone on 020 8871 6016.

They can also be downloaded from

23rd May 2003

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