Labour calls for end to right-to-buy as Morecambe MP says they’re “out of touch”

Karen Leytham.
Karen Leytham.

Tenants’ rights to buy council and housing association properties should be halted to protect social housing stocks, say Labour politicians.

Labour delegates in Morecambe and Lunesdale want their national party to adopt a policy calling for the government’s right-to-buy scheme to be reversed.

But the Tory MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale has called them “out of touch with ordinary working people”.

The Queen’s Speech in May announced plans to give 1.3m housing association tenants the right to buy their homes while requiring councils to sell off high-value properties and invest the proceeds into building affordable ones.

Right-to-buy was first brought in by Margaret Thatcher’s Government in 1980 and currently helps eligible council and housing association tenants buy their home with a discount of up to £77,900 in the Lancaster district.

Coun Karen Leytham, city council cabinet member for housing and vice-chair of Labour’s Skerton branch, said: “Affordable social housing must continue to be built by both councils and housing associations without the worry of having to sell them off at massive discounts, thereby losing desperately-required social housing.

“There is also the very real possibility that, once the benefit cap is lowered, there will potentially be more homelessness, which also strengthens the need to retain as much affordable social housing as possible.”

Morecambe and Lunesdale Labour Party want the national party to urge all MPs and housing ministers to adopt Scotland’s approach and take a stand on reversing the policy as soon as possible.

David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, said: “I think it is sad that the Labour Party locally are so out of touch with ordinary working people.

“The right to buy scheme extension affords the same rights to housing association tenants that council tenants already enjoy, the right to acquire the home they live in.

“Under the scheme the Government rightly will fund the replacement of properties sold under the scheme which will require local authorities to manage their housing assets more efficiently than they currently do.

“It is also interesting to note that this Government has delivered 260,00 affordable homes since 2010 and council house building is at its highest rate in 23 years.

“When talking to housing association tenants across Morecambe and Lunesdale, it is clear that this aspirational policy is popular.

“This was something the General Election result clearly showed in Morecambe and Lunesdale.”