Candidates in row over new right to buy

Right to buy is back on the political agenda.
Right to buy is back on the political agenda.

Their parties may have been Coalition partners for the past five years, but the Tory and Lib Dem candidates in Berwick have very different views on a proposed policy on housing.

Last week, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged that a Conservative government would extend the Right to Buy to tenants of housing-association properties, which was welcomed by Tory Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

“I am delighted that we have committed to extend Right to Buy to housing-association tenants,” she said.

“This will mean 17,320 families in Northumberland will have the chance to buy their home.

“Since it was first launched in 1980, Right to Buy has helped two million people get on to the housing ladder and now many more people will have the same opportunity to achieve their dream and enjoy the security that comes from owning your own home.

“If there was one mistake in the original policy, it was that the housing stock was not replaced so I am glad that the new policy has recognised this and the need to build more houses.”

But Lib Dem Julie Pörksen was less impressed, describing the plans as ‘a throwback to the Thatcher era’.

“Clearly the Conservatives have not learned the lessons of the past,” she said.

“Right to Buy gives huge subsidies – up to £100,000 – to some people while doing nothing to tackle the lack of affordable housing many communities face.

“In fact, it makes the situation worse by reducing the amount of social housing available. The whole thing is a discredited throwback to the Thatcher era. We need more social housing, not less.

“On top of that, this policy would cost at least £5.8billion and be deeply unfair to private tenants who would receive no help to buy a home. A much fairer system is the Lib Dem proposal for Right to Own homes, in which each month’s rent steadily buys you a stake in the house. After 30 years, you own it outright.”