Lack of awareness prompts fresh RTB drive
The Communities and Local Government department is stepping up work to promote the enhanced right to buy after a survey found most social tenants are unaware of the changes.
The department has set up a call centre to deal with inquiries about the right to buy and a dedicated website, after research carried out for the department by Ipsos Mori found 83 per cent of 824 tenants surveyed were either not aware of the right to buy or not aware of the changes.
In April the government increased the discounts available for council tenants who buy their homes to up to £75,000. It has also set up a scheme that is designed to ensure a new affordable home is built for every one sold.
Despite the lack of awareness some areas have reported a surge in interest in the right to buy since the increased discounts came in. Wandsworth had 141 applications between April and June, compared with 13 last year, and Birmingham had 463, compared with 219 in the same period of 2011.
Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for housing at Hammersmith & Fulham Council, said: ‘This council has promoted the extended scheme extensively and so far, more that 700 people have attended three right to buy roadshows and more than 180 people have now applied to exercise their right to buy, compared to around ten people the year before.’
Housing minister Grant Shapps said: ‘Our revitalised right to buy scheme has trebled the discount in many areas, and has led to a surge in interest from aspiring homeowners across the country. But our research clearly shows that too many tenants are still in the dark about what this could mean for them.
‘That’s why I’m launching a dedicated call centre and website for anyone wanting to use their right to buy so that those wanting to buy their council home are equipped with all the facts, make an informed decision and take full advantage of the revitalised scheme to feel the pride of homeownership.’
A previous attempt by the CLG to promote right to buy attracted criticism from councils who felt the template letters they were being encouraged to send out did not place enough emphasis on the financial risks of homeownership.