The Welsh housing minister has opened the door for Right to Buy in Wales, saying she “hopes” its ban in Wales is a temporary measure and could be removed as the country increases its social housing stock.
Speaking at a Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru conference in Swansea, Julie James said the “major flaw” with Right to Buy was not necessarily the selling off of council homes, but was instead not allowing councils to use the proceeds from those sales to build more homes.
She said: “Since Thatcher stopped us building council housing and sold them all off… we’ve had 40 years where we have not been able to replace the social housing.
“I’m not against people owning their own homes or even buying the home that they rent. The point is that we just don’t have enough of them.”
The Right to Buy was officially abolished in Wales in January this year, following the passing of the Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights (Wales) Bill in 2017.
Under the policy, which has also been banned in Scotland, councils are only allowed to use a proportion of the money they make through the selling of homes to build new ones, with the rest going to the Treasury or the paying off of historic debts.
Ms James said that she is “very much behind” the decision to ban the Right to Buy and that it will take “many years” to get to the point where the country has enough social housing stock to reintroduce the policy.
She said: “I would like to get to the point where you can rock up and say: ‘I’d like a social house, please’, and someone says, ‘Yes, certainly madame, where would you like to live?’
“So it’s not for people who can’t afford ‘real’ housing or anything else – it’s a choice… We’re not at that point.”