Thirty years since right-to-buy

Nia Williams

December 18, 2009

The scheme has been embraced by governments of all persuasions since 1979 and has enabled millions of people to get a foot on the housing ladder, according to HSBC.

Since 1979, Local Authorities have received £45.38 billion capital receipts for the Right-to-Buy scheme in Great Britain. With an average discount offer of 47% on the property value over this period, the value of assets given away amounts to £40.36 billion. The total value of council homes sold amounts to £85.74 billion, making it by far the largest privatisation initiative, according to HSBC.

The present value of the stock of council houses sold off is in excess of £173.86 billion. Since 1979, 2.5 million council properties have been sold through the Right-to-Buy scheme out of an original stock of 5 million. In 1979 one in three of the country’s households were council tenants. Now only 12% are council tenants (with another 7% renting from housing associations/RSLs).

Andy Mielczarek, head of retail products at HSBC, said: “The right-to-buy initiative has its supporters and detractors, and was a central plank in the Conservative manifesto during their term in office in 1979. Since then, successive governments have embraced the policy and no-one can deny the major impact it has had on homeownership in Great Britain and the massive windfall gains to millions of council house sitting tenants.”

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