Sale of housing association homes would threaten rural communities says Labour

House building graphicWest Somerset Labour Party has condemned the government’s plan to give tenants of housing associations the right to buy – saying it’s a threat to the future of affordable housing in rural areas.

Branch chairman John Bryant has written to the shadow communities and local government secretary, Emma Reynolds, saying Labour should oppose the Tory policy. In his letter, John says:

“It is our view that that the proposal to extend the right to buy to housing association tenants should be opposed in principle. It is accepted that this could cause the party some short term unpopularity. Such a stance would no doubt be construed as a sign of Labour’s lack of support for aspiration but that claim would ignore the aspirations of low income people wishing to have a decent affordable home.

“We are aware it is contended that dwellings sold would be replaced. But there are many villages in West Somerset without any remaining suitable land zoned for low cost or other development and even when plots are available, their market values are often greater than the total cost of an affordable unit.

house building - public and private.jpg“A government spokeswoman in the House of Lords was recently unable to answer a question as to whether the right to buy would apply to dwellings erected on rural exception sites. The questioner pointed out that the previous owners of exception sites had often made them available at well below market price on the moral understanding that the land would be used in perpetuity to meet local housing need.

“Many housing associations are charities of very long standing with precise objects and it would be interesting to know how the government proposes to indemnify these organisations if the legislation compels them to act contrary to their objects. In West Somerset, an attempt is being made to establish a community land trust to provide much needed housing. Uncertainty about future occupiers having the right to buy would act as a major disincentive to this effort.

“We hope Labour will oppose this misguided Conservative policy, which we believe would have a very serious detrimental effect on the long term viability of rural communities.”

John Bryant, chair West Somerset Labour Party
01984 640421

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Alan Bond
Alan Bond
8 years ago

More tory theft – most of these homes will finish up in the hands of private landlords who will increase rents to milk the market thereby increasing the housing benefits bill. The policy can only be considered as more thatcherite vandalism.

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