Right-to-buy tenant discounts trebled

A decade ago more than 80,000 council tenants bought their property. In the last year, not much more than 3,400 took the plunge. But the government is hoping many more will in future under a refreshed "right to buy" plan - with discounts increased to £50,000 in some cases. Housing minister Grant Shapps claims that for every one social housing property sold, another one will be built.

A hand up the housing ladder?

Discounts, in some cases, could treble. This will mean, for example, that someone in the West Midlands who had been a tenant for eight years on an income of £20,000 could buy their £90,000 flat with a discount of £50,000 compared to £26,000 previously - effectively doubling their discount.

In London, a tenant for five years buying a flat worth £160,000 would also receive a discount of £50,000 - more than three times the previous cap of £16,000. So claims the government, at least.

Meaningful difference

"The previous miserly restrictions on discounts meant Right to Buy became, for many tenants, nothing more than an empty promise - a social mobility scheme run by Ebenezer Scrooge," said the housing minister in a press release. "That's why I am publishing proposals that will dramatically increase the discounts under Right to Buy, ensuring it once again becomes a meaningful tool to support social tenants who want to buy the home they live in."

Housing association tenants with a preserved Right to Buy - because their home was part of a housing stock transfer from a local authority - will also benefit from the enhanced offer. But if you're one of the 3,400 who've bought in the last year before this new discount, bad luck. (What chance of these discounts being applied retrospectively?)

Long-term taxpayer cost

Bear in mind ex-council property surcharges and maintenance bills can be high and some right-to-buy owners have had difficulty in maintaining their upkeep over time. But for other tenants, this is an offer many will jump at.

And if you're not a council tenant and are renting privately (and paying quite a bit for the privilege), wouldn't you feel, well, a bit short-changed by this news? £50,000 is a chunky deposit.

Also, right-to-buy receipts surely will not compensate the government for the cost of new properties (land cost, build, etc). The maths, from the taxpayers' point of view, don't add up. Especially for larger, more valuable properties.
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