Lib Dems’ Right-to-Buy challenge quashed in council chambers

A LIBERAL Democrat motion to put the brakes on the Government’s Right-to-Buy scheme was quashed last Thursday.

The Conservative-driven plan is to extend the scheme, allowing council tenants to purchase the properties they live in. While those behind the bid believe this is the best way to get people on the housing ladder, opposers argue that the social housing pool would never recover from such a sell-off.

In vain, Lib Dem Leader in Woking, Councillor Will Forster, told the full council on Thursday: “Woking has a housing crisis – it is too expensive and there is a vast shortage of affordable homes. In the midst of this challenging crisis the Conservatives seek to sell off their largest properties to fund the Right-to-Buy scheme.

“This would massively undermine the affordable housing we have in Woking, and could have profound negative consequences for the council, our local Housing Association and residents in the borough.

“Extending the scheme would cost billions – money that could be far better spent building truly affordable family housing that we need. Lib Dems are in favour of home-ownership, so don’t try to paint us as if we are not. I’m spending time trying to find one and it’s difficult.

“But it doesn’t make sense to offer discounts to a few at huge expense in a way that will only make housing even less affordable for others.”

His concerns were echoed by fellow Lib Dem Cllr Liam Lyons, who says the numbers behind the scheme do not add up: “It may not come as a surprise to members that the average salary in Woking, according to the Office for National Statistics, is £24,060, while the average house price, according to Zoopla, is a whopping £420,700.

“I couldn’t find any national bank or building society who would lend even half that amount against that income – and even then it is assuming a 10 per cent deposit.”

In response, Conservative Council Leader John Kingsbury said the claims of how the scheme was to be funded were premature, citing that everyone should have the chance to own their home.

He added: “This is not a motion we should support but one we should refuse: I will always work to help people achieve their aspirations.”

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