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MSPs vote to end right-to-buy

Words: Sam Waddicor

MSPs in Scotland have voted to end the Right to Buy scheme despite a final hour attempt, by Conservative ministers, to block the bill with an amendment. It was voted down 103 to 12.

The decision means that tenants will now have the option to apply to buy their homes for the next two years before the scheme is stopped in 2016. The Scottish government claims that the decision will prevent the sale of up to 15,500 social houses over the next 10 years and support improvements to the private rental sector.

Labour had called for the deadline to be shortened to one year to further protect the current housing stock but housing minister Margaret Burgess rejected this.

Right to buy was famously introduced by Margaret Thatcher in 1980 and enabled people to buy the homes they were living in at a discounted price. Just under half a million tenants in Scotland have bought homes under the system.

“This is a historic day for housing as it marks the end of right to buy social housing in Scotland,” said Burgess.

“Stakeholders from across the sector have given this legislation widespread support as they recognise that we have put together a package of measures which will help improve housing in the social, private rented and owner-occupied sectors.

“This government continues to invest in affordable housing," Burgess continued. "Earlier this week the first minister confirmed we have invested £1 billion in affordable housing since April 2011, putting us well on track to delivering an additional 30,000 homes across Scotland by March 2016. This investment is supporting 8,000 jobs in each year of the five-year parliamentary term."

Conservative MSP for North East Scotland and housing spokesman Alex Johnstone said: "This move by the SNP is motivated by nothing more than political dogma and is nothing to do with protecting the housing stock.

"Right to Buy has been the most effective single measure to enable a whole generation on modest incomes to take pride in owning their own property."