Ruffley Criticises Plans to Block Residents from Buying Their Council House

Tuesday, 28 January, 2003

David Ruffley MP today attacked Labour plans, supported by the Liberal Democrats, to restrict the Right to Buy on council housing. By contrast, Bury St Edmunds Conservatives pledged to make home ownership more accessible to those on low incomes by:-

Protecting the Right to Buy on St Edmundsbury Borough Council's 6,049 and Mid Suffolk District Council's 3,694 council houses, and;

Extending the scope of the Right to Buy across St Edmundsbury Borough Council's 1,187 and Mid Suffolk District Council's 536 non council owned housing association dwellings (socially rented sector).

John Prescott announced plans on 22 January to halve Right to Buy discounts on council houses in 42 local authority areas, and warned that further restrictions were being considered across the country. Liberal Democrats have also advocated slashing the discounts which make home ownership affordable.

David Ruffley explained: 'Labour and Liberal Democrats oppose needy people getting their foot on the housing ladder. The Right to Buy scheme is a popular Conservative initiative that has helped nearly two million tenants of council properties to enjoy the benefits of home ownership. But clamping down on the Right to Buy will do nothing to improve the supply of housing. Tenants will stay put and communities will not benefit from the money that the sales generate.

'I pledge that I will fight these plans to hinder the Right to Buy for St Edmundsbury's and Mid Suffolk's council tenants. Moreover, I want to do more and extend rights to housing association residents in the social housing sector, where such associations have previously benefited from taxpayer funding. Once those residents buy their own homes, the proceeds of the property sales will be invested to build or acquire new affordable housing. This alone could deliver an extra 15,000 affordable houses every single year.

'My Conservative colleagues and I are already consulting with major housing associations, interest groups and experts to ensure we can deliver the best deal in both rural and urban areas. I believe everyone should have a place they can call home and in which they have a part or full ownership stake.'