Tories accuse Prescott of ‘strangling’ right to buy

John Prescott is “strangling” the right to buy scheme and preventing people from buying their own homes, the Conservatives claimed today.

Accusing the deputy prime minister of being wedded to “old-fashioned socialism”, they insist the government has consistently undermined the scheme first introduced by the Tories under the 1980 Housing Act.

On the 25th anniversary of the introduction of right to buy, shadow local government secretary Caroline Spelman launched a blistering attack on what she called “a series of damaging changes” made to the policy since Labour came to power.

These meant that the typical housing discount for right to buy was now worth only a third of an average home’s price, compared to half in 1997, she said.

Ms Spelman also pointed out that the minimum price of sale had been raised and that the eligibility for those wanting to join the scheme had been reduced.

She concluded: “The right to buy has been one of the most successful housing policies ever introduced, boosting home ownership, social mobility and helping create mixed communities.

“It is John Prescott’s outdated values, not the right to buy, that deserve a place in the dustbin of history.”

However, a spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) denied the accusations, saying: “The government is totally committed to the principle of right to buy, which has helped many families to realise their aspirations to own their own homes.”

He admitted the government was concerned, along with local authorities and housing organisations, about the impact of right to buy on the availability of affordable housing in some areas, and about exploitation of the rules.

But the spokesman added: “The Right to Buy measures introduced through the Housing Act 2004 aims to restore the focus on long-term home ownership and the building of stable communities, and to tackle exploitation.