Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty
I wrote to Members on 22 January regarding the consultation on the future of the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire. The White Paper set out two proposals aimed at protecting our social housing stock in face of continuing housing pressures.
The first proposal was short to medium term action to reduce the maximum sales discount from the current figure of £16,000 to £8,000. The second proposal was longer term action to develop new legislation to end the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire. This would be developed ready for the next Government to consider as part of its programme of legislation.
Today, I am publishing the summary of the response to the consultation.
A total of 94 responses were received from a wide variety of individuals and organisations. The respondents included Local Authorities, Registered Social Landlords (Housing Associations), representative bodies working in the field of housing and individual members of the public. The latter included 30 social housing tenants, which constitutes approximately a third of all respondents.
Overall, the responses show support for the proposal to reduce the maximum sales discount and the proposal to develop legislation to end the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire.
The proposal to reduce the maximum sales discount was supported by 76% of the 70 respondents who clearly indicated their preference.
Sixty nine respondents commented on the level to which the maximum sales discount should be reduced. Of those who were clear on their preference, thirty one respondents (46%) agreed with the proposal. The remainder (54%) did not agree with the figure of £8,000. However, our analysis shows the majority (69%) of respondents who said they opposed the reduction to £8,000 said they want the discount to be reduced even further or removed altogether.
The proposal to develop new legislation to end the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire was supported by 63% of the 83 respondents who clearly indicated their views. Another six respondents gave qualified support to the proposal.
The responses also revealed more than nine out of ten respondents (94%) believe the Welsh Government should take more action to help people whose needs cannot be met by the housing market. 75% feel the Welsh Government should do more to protect the social housing stock from further reduction.
I have given very careful consideration to the response to the consultation and have decided to proceed with both proposals set out in the White Paper. Social housing is a vital and very valuable part of our housing system and is an essential safety net for people for whom the housing market does not work, either by buying a property or by renting from a private landlord. Significantly, this includes some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
I am now making arrangements to amend existing legislation to reduce the maximum discount available under the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire from £16,000 to £8,000. I intend to make this Statutory Instrument before the summer recess.
Whilst the response to the consultation indicates some support for reducing the maximum discount to less than £8,000, I consider the reduction to be reasonable and proportionate in terms of our desire to stem the continued reduction in our social housing.
I am also putting in place action to develop new primary legislation to end the Right to Buy and the Right to Acquire. Ultimately, I believe this is the only way to protect our social housing stock from further reduction and, most importantly, to ensure as many people as possible have access to a home they can afford.
My commitment to tackle poverty remains paramount. The action I am taking to protect our social housing stock is a recognised way in which social housing policy can be used to tackle poverty.