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Tories’ right to buy a ‘taxpayer disaster’, says finance expert

By Staff Reporter

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The right-to-buy scheme “has been a disaster for the UK taxpayer” as new figures show sales of social housing has net homeowners in Scotland more than £2 billion with some of the biggest profits coming in the Highlands.

Data from the BBC’s research unit show the five most profitable homes sold in the Highland Council area under the scheme made a combined £444,222.

Since May 2004 the total income across Scotland from the sales of 104,249 former right-to-buy properties was £2.3 billion or £2.05 billion in real terms – the average profit purchase and sale was £25 per day.

Paul Dossett, the head of local government at financial services company Grant Thornton, said: “The right-to-buy scheme has been a disaster for the UK taxpayer. The subsequent shortage of social housing has resulted in a hike in rent prices which, when the tenant is a recipient of housing benefit, is also funded by the taxpayer.

“Councils have been forced to buy back homes at a significantly inflated price to try and meet demand – a financial disaster for councils who are already struggling to remain financially sustainable.”

The policy was enacted in 1980 by the Tories, but ended in Scotland by the SNP government in 2016. It initially offered a generation of people the chance to own their home for the first time.

The fastest sale in the Highlands was in just four days but according to those that compiled the report it was not typical of the properties that went on the market as it involved land being purchased from the council to add value to a private property.

The property in Conon Bridge was sold just four days after the purchase for £243,000 following the owners paying £40,000 for the land.

In the Highlands overall the majority of people remained in their homes for more than six years before selling.

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