Council house discount to be axed

Council tenants in Scotland are to lose the right to buy their homes at a discount, the Deputy First Minister is set to announce.

Nicola Sturgeon is expected to confirm that the policy will be abolished when she visits a housing association in Glasgow. The Scottish Government has already placed limitations on the “right to buy”, including scrapping it for new tenants.

Since it was introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1980, around 455,000 properties have been bought in Scotland using the scheme.

The policy has led to a shift in home ownership in Scotland, with 65% of homes now owner-occupied, according to the Scottish Government.

But it has also been blamed for a reduction in the number of affordable rented houses, leading to longer waiting lists.

Ms Sturgeon is expected to make the announcement when she visits tenants at Queens Cross Housing Association which has recently completed 385 new affordable homes across Glasgow.

Former Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said she was “deeply disappointed” that the Scottish Government should take this step.

She said the SNP has some “very hard questions” to answer about what it will do for the next generation of property owners.

Miss Goldie told BBC Radio Scotland: “This was a policy which arguably was one of the most socially liberating policies we have ever seen in Scotland and across the United Kingdom.

“I could still remember the days when people lived in monolithic council house schemes, that’s what they were called, and they were afflicted by a postcode prejudice.

“They were apprehensive about disclosing their address because they felt it would negate their chance of getting a job or even being accepted for an interview, and by offering a tenant the right to buy you did two things – you first of all introduced a freedom to the individual to make a choice about how they wanted to live and secondly you stopped them being trapped in that environment because that’s exactly what they were.

“I’m really deeply disappointed that the SNP should take this step.”

Miss Goldie described what she saw as the advantages of the right-to-buy scheme.

She told the Good Morning Scotland programme: “I think one of the most valuable consequences of right to buy was actually to give people the chance to take a decision about what we wanted to do and also to free them from this environmental prison because that’s what they were in.”

She added: “The hard question I think the SNP’s got to answer is what are they doing for the next generation of property owners? If we’re returning to locking people into tenancies then with a single stroke you’re actually eradicating potential property owners. That’s extremely bad not just for these individuals but it’s extremely bad for house building and for jobs.”