GMB Slams Tory ‘Right to Buy’ Plans

The GMB union has slammed the Conservative Party’s plans to extend the ‘right to buy’ to housing association tenants as creating a “rich harvest” for private landlords at the expense of the nation’s social housing stock.

Housing picSome £9.3 billion a year in housing benefit is already paid to private landlords, according to the union, which claims that tens of thousands of ordinary London families are unable to find a council house to rent, while “rich farmers and the elite are scooping them up by the tractor load”.

A new GMB analysis shows that of the approximately 4.2 million households living in private rented accommodation in Britain, the rent to landlords in 1.6 million, or 38% of them, is paid in part or in full by taxpayers.

This new analysis was published as the Tories pledged to open up housing association property to buy to let landlords, just as 40% of the council housing sold in the 1980s ended up in landlords’ hands.

Of 15,874 dwellings in council blocks in the London borough of Wandsworth, for example, where tenants acquired the leasehold under right to buy legislation, some 6,180 dwellings are now owned by private landlords who rent them to private tenants. That is nearly 40% of the total sold by the council.

There are 977 private landlords who own more than one of these 6,180 dwellings. One private landlord owns 93, another owns 32, another 15 landlords each own 10 or more, and a further 83 landlords each own between five and nine of these dwellings.

GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said: “A GMB investigation in Wandsworth laid bare the harsh reality of the exploitation of our social housing stock. Exactly the same will happen now that the Tories have opened to door to buy to let landlords on housing association properties.

“In Wandsworth and elsewhere private businesses are making vast profits from the public purse while the people these homes were built for sit on waiting lists that never move. To add insult to injury many are using offshore tax havens to avoid paying tax on these profits.

“These homes were built and designed to be rented by ordinary London families. The investigation exposes Mrs Thatcher’s flagship policy of right to buy for individuals as nothing more than a charter for the exploitation of our social housing for private profit. Her plan to create a home-owning democracy has turned into a buy to let bonanza.

“You could not make it up that the family of one of Mrs Thatcher’s aides, who served as housing minister during the high tide of the right to buy, ends up owning a vast swathe of London’s ex-council housing.

“While tens of thousands of ordinary London families are unable to find council house to rent rich farmers and the elite are scooping them up by the tractor load.  The right to buy has turned into a rich harvest for greedy farmers.”


Click here for more information and details of the GMB research.