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Councils report rush as Right to Buy ends in Scotland

Council leaders recently revealed that there was a mad flurry of people seeking to buy their council homes before the end of the Right to Buy scheme in Scotland.

Over three decades ago the Tory government headed by Margaret Thatcher introduced the Right to Buy scheme, which provided millions of Britons the option to own the homes they had previously been renting from their local council.

In Scotland, however, the scheme ended on August 1, so aspiring homeowners were rushing to buy their council homes before the July 31st deadline.

Councillors reported a flood of applications in Dundee during July.

A council spokesperson stated that from the beginning of June until late July, 104 Right to Buy applications were placed. During the same time period last year, there were 29 applications, indicating a sharp spike in activity.

Right to Buy has resulted in over 25,000 people buying their council houses in Dundee. Councillor John Alexander, who convened the neighbourhood services committee, said that like other local authorities, Dundee has been unable to keep up with the demand, and the number of available properties has been steadily going down.

Mr Alexander said that despite heavy investment in new social housing due to the high number of properties sold since Right to Buy commenced, the number of council homes has plummeted from over 40,000 to 13,000.

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He suggested that the policy may have proved beneficial for people who bought their homes but the consequent reduction in available properties and longer waiting lists have been detrimental to Dundee overall.

With the scheme being brought to an end and an increase in the city’s new build programme, Mr Alexander hopes to see the number of available social housing opportunities go up.

One Kirkton resident participated in the late rush. She applied to buy her home six weeks ago, admitting, “I should have done it years ago.”

Ken Thomson, estate agent and partner at Thorntons, confirmed that the company’s Dundee office has multiple transactions in progress. He believed that the impending deadline motivated those who had been thinking about applying to finally take action.

Although residents of Dundee’s Fintry area agreed that Right to Buy had saved them money, they could also understand why it was being discontinued.

One woman who bought her council house 21 years ago said that she benefited from no longer having to pay the bedroom tax, and that she paid less for her mortgage than she was paying in rent. A 69-year-old man who bought his home around 25 years ago called the move “the best thing I did”, adding that it left him better off financially.

Another resident admitted that while buying his council house was a good thing for him, he understood that it removed a lot of properties from the council and made it more difficult for younger people to find affordable council properties to rent.

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