This Legislative Competency Order laid by the Deputy Minister for Housing, Jocelyn Davies, will allow the Assembly Government to bring forward a measure to suspend the right to buy scheme on application from local councils in Wales.
This move is one of a number of actions being taken by the Assembly Government in order to increase the availability of affordable homes. These include an increase in social housing grants and in future there will be a requirement for local authorities to produce affordable housing delivery plans. In the draft budget, the Assembly Government has also committed an extra £30million over three years to help meet the target of building 6,500 new affordable homes.
The Deputy Minister said:
We made a commitment in One Wales to seek legislative power for the Assembly to suspend the Right to Buy in areas of housing pressure. It is a problem that affects areas across Wales, but particularly our rural communities. In some communities few properties remain in the social housing stock, making it very difficult for people on modest incomes to find a home. I am confident that the steps we are taking now will make a considerable difference to the current situation.
Almost 60% of council housing stock in Powys and Ceredigion has been sold under the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire schemes. Since the introduction of the Right to Buy (in 1980) and the Right to Acquire, (in 1997) over 140,000 dwellings have been purchased by tenants in Wales - almost half the original social housing stock.
- The Right to Buy gives secure tenants of local authorities and some longstanding tenants of Registered Social Landlords the right to purchase their home at a discount to the open market value. The current maximum discount in Wales is £16,000.
- The Right to Acquire provides a similar right to assured tenants of RSLs who live in properties which have been built or improved with Social Housing Grant since 1 April 1997
- Where the ownership of a rented home is transferred from a local authority to an RSL the tenant’s RTB is usually preserved as part of the terms of the transfer. This is commonly referred to as the “Preserved Right to Buy”.
- It is proposed that the LCO gives the Assembly power to make a Measure concerning the Right to Buy, Right to Acquire and the Preserved Right to Buy.
- The previous administration used its secondary legislation powers to make Orders concerning the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire to:-
- Reduce the maximum discount from £24,000 to £16,000;
- Allow landlords the “right of first refusal” to repurchase properties offered for resale within ten years of the original purchase under the Right to Buy/Acquire
The Assembly Government has also taken action in a number of other areas concerning affordable housing. These include:-
- Ministerial Interim Planning Policy Statement on Housing (MIPPS 01/06)
- revised Planning guidance on Affordable Housing (TAN 2) and Joint Housing Land Availability Studies (TAN 1);
- a local Housing Market Assessment Guide;
- an Affordable Housing Toolkit (which identifies the full range of powers and tools available to local authorities and their partners to maximise the provision of affordable housing);
- increasing the Social Housing Grant programme; and
- a protocol to encourage the disposal of surplus Assembly-owned land for affordable housing.
December 4, 2007