WIGAN has given Government plans to restart a council house Right To Buy scheme a mixed welcome.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps says he wants to breath new life into the controversial flagship scheme introduced by Margaret Thatcher more than 30 years ago by offering long-time tenants discounts of up to £75,000.
Monies raised will go towards building more social housing.
Tenants who have five years’ residency could receive a 35 per cent discount, with an extra one per cent for each added year. Flat dwellers will get 50 per cent off after five years, with two per cent added yearly.
Wigan has lost up to a third of its council housing stock to Right To Buy – more than 11,157 homes – since the law was introduced in 1982 and more than 6,000 people remain on the council house waiting list.
Mr Shapps said: “We want to help everyone achieve their aspirations, and feel the pride of home ownership.
“Scrapping the miserly restrictions on the level of discounts under Right to Buy is great news for thousands of tenants who have done well for themselves and want to buy the home they live in.”
Wigan Conservative Federation Chairman and former Mayor Michael Winstanley said that he was pleased that the Government was re-launching the scheme.
He said: “This policy did more to achieve a property owning democracy than any other. Labour always detested it as it removed reliance for people from the state and over the last 13 years of a Labour Government they wanted this to wither and die. Giving people the right to own their home is one everyone should have.”
But Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said: “If ministers are serious about allowing people to own their own homes they should ensure that for every social housing property sold, another is built.
“At a time like this, we should be increasing the supply of affordable homes for families on the housing waiting list, not reducing them.”
While Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue, who led a Wigan and Leigh Housing delegation to see the minister last month, said: “I am concerned that at a time when we already have a critical shortage of affordable housing, this amounts to little more than asset-stripping and will ultimately mean fewer genuinely affordable homes for families struggling on low incomes in Wigan.”