Carl Sargeant, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children
I have introduced the Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights (Wales) Bill, with its Explanatory Memorandum, to the National Assembly today, 13 March 2017.
Our social housing is a valuable resource, but it is under considerable pressure. The size of the stock has declined significantly since 1980 when the Right to Buy was introduced. The number of sales is equivalent to 45% of the social housing stock in 1981. This has resulted in longer waiting times for people in housing need, many of whom are vulnerable, to access a home they can afford.
The Bill will provide for the Right to Buy, the Preserved Right to Buy and the Right to Acquire for tenants of local authorities and registered social landlords to be abolished after a period of at least one year following Royal Assent.
The Bill supports the Welsh Government’s wider aims of a more prosperous and fairer Wales. It will help to tackle poverty by protecting our stock of social housing from further reduction, ensuring it is available to provide safe, secure and affordable housing for people who are unable to take advantage of the housing market to buy or rent a home.
To encourage the development of new social housing, the Bill provides that the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire will end for new homes two months after Royal Assent. This will help encourage social landlords to build new homes safe in the knowledge that they will not be at risk of being sold after only a relatively short period.
I recognise the proposal affects tenants in social housing and we will ensure tenants are aware of the effect of the Bill in good time before abolition takes place. The Bill will require the Welsh Government to publish information, which social landlords in turn must provide to every affected tenant, within two months of the Bill receiving Royal Assent.
The Bill complements other actions being taken by the Welsh Government to increase the supply of housing. We have set an ambitious target of creating 20,000 affordable homes in this term of government. Alongside social housing this will include schemes such as Help to Buy and Rent to Own to enable people on modest incomes to own their own homes. We are supporting low cost home ownership and we are expanding the social housing stock.
Abolishing the Right to Buy, in order to support people in housing need, was one of our manifesto commitments. I am pleased to introduce this Bill and I look forward to working with the National Assembly during scrutiny over the coming months. I will make an Oral Statement on the Bill to the Assembly tomorrow, 14 March 2017.
Details of the Bill are available on the National Assembly for Wales website – www.assembly.wales.