South Swindon CLP supports call for Labour to commit to ending Right to Buy

The model resolution of the Labour Campaign for Council Housing on ending Right to Buy was passed by South Swindon CLP by 26 votes to nil, with five abstentions. The resolution calls on CLPs to add their name to the statement and write to the Leadership calling on it to commit to ending RTB.

The only reservation raised was concern that it might have electoral consequences because we were taking away someone’s ‘right’ to buy’. Other than that everybody else who spoke was strongly in favour. The seconder was the opposition Lead Member for housing and it was supported by the Deputy Leader of the Labour Group.

In replying to the discussion I made the point that the ‘right’ of tenants to buy (there are less than 1.6 million council homes left in England) was as relevant to most of them as the right of universal claimant tenants to eat in Claridge’s. There was no way they could afford it. To get a council tenancy these days you have to be poor; statutarily homeless, a single parent, disabled, or in some other way disadvantaged.

In Swindon, as in many other towns, the council operates a double means test. When you apply to go on the waiting list they check whether you earn ‘too much’. Once on the list and you bid for a property they check whether you earn enough to be able to afford to pay the rent. Some people fail and are prevented from bidding again. They have a compulsory system called Green Light for Housing which you have to “engage” with, or you cannot bid again. Council officers will go through your finances, check whether you are collecting all the benefits you are entitled to and so on. If you can’t afford a council rent what can you afford?

The vote by CLP members is an indication of what we have long said, that there is overwhelming support amongst the membership for ending RTB. We need to build the pressure on this.

Why don’t you get your CLP to pass it? There is also a slightly amended version for union branches.

You can download the model resolution from here.

Martin Wicks

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