Margaret Thatcher's 'Right to Buy' scheme is still causing big problems – Helen Martin

Former tenants who bought their council home are being forced to pay up to £40,000 repair bills.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 12:30 pm
Margaret Thatcher at the Scottish Conservative Party conference in Perth in 1986 (Picture: Alan MacDonald)

Why? Because they’re surrounded by council tenants who are benefiting from Edinburgh City Council regenerating the scheme. Obviously, the council doesn’t pay for privately owned properties.

This nightmare goes back to 1980 when Margaret Thatcher set up the Right to Buy. By 1995, 2.1 million council houses were sold and the Treasury had made £28 billion.

People were tempted because the cost to buy was quite cheap, but that was very difficult for Scotland where, in the 1960s, about half the population were council tenants. It was 2016 when Scotland was able to stop the Right to Buy.

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During these “sales”, tenants who had always paid council rent, were not given the best advice. They had never, apart from decorating, been used to paying for all repairs within their home.

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They had no idea how much that would cost. If all flats and houses in their scheme were all being bought they would, in time, be able to sell for a major profit. If not, no-one would want to buy.

They would have to pay for problems such as re-roofing though tenants wouldn’t. And, as is happening now, if there was a major regeneration handled by the council, they’d have to pay their share.

I have some criticisms for the city council, but it isn’t their fault. Thatcher’s Right to Buy is to blame for this, plus increased homelessness with the vast reduction of council homes.

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