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Housing policy transformed

Housing policy transformed: The right to buy and the desire to own

Peter King
Copyright Date: 2010
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  • Book Info
    Housing policy transformed
    Book Description:

    The Right to Buy is the most controversial housing policy of the last 30 years, but it is also the most successful. Unlike the many studies that have focused on the costs of the policy and sought to show its negative impact, this book seeks to understand the Right to Buy on its own terms. It explains how the policy links with a coherent ideology based on self-interest and the care of things close to us - instead of a policy that sought to do things for people, the Right to Buy allowed people to do things for themselves.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-214-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xi)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xii-xii)
  5. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    So many initiatives in housing are announced with a huge fanfare, as if they will solve the ‘housing problem’ and transform housing structures. New policies are described as the ones that create lasting and permanent change. Since the late 1980s we can point to any number of new initiatives such as Tenants’ Choice, Housing Action Trusts, Housing Investment Trusts, private finance and stock transfer, all aimed at altering the structure of housing provision by introducing private initiative. More recently, the Labour government under Blair and Brown has given us choice-based policies but also the Respect Agenda and Anti-Social Behaviour Orders...

  6. TWO Owning and using things
    (pp. 15-46)

    The controversy over the Right to Buy (RTB) is essentially about ownership and where that ownership is vested. Partly this is because ownership in Britain is seen as important in itself, but also it relates to the manner in which owned things can be used and who determines that use.

    It is also a concern for what ownershipmeans. What is the significance of a stock of dwellings being held collectively and for a specific purpose which is itself deemed social, compared to a dwelling that is owned by an individual, that is to say, privately?

    Another way of looking...

  7. THREE What Mrs Thatcher did
    (pp. 47-62)

    One of the fascinating aspects of Conservative Party thinking in the mid- to late 1970s was its intellectual robustness and utter self-confidence. The Conservatives were sure that they were moving with the grain of the British people. When we read the policy documents of the years between Mrs Thatcher’s election as leader in 1975 and the 1979 election there is a definite sense of purpose, of a political party with a mission. This mission was no less than the transformation of the country and the defeat of socialism. In this regard, Mrs Thatcher may have been correct to portray herself...

  8. FOUR What happened next?
    (pp. 63-84)

    As we saw at the end of Chapter 3, one of the somewhat perverse consequences of the credit crunch in 2008 has been the reaction of local authorities to a sharp decline in Right to Buy (RTB) sales. Perhaps inevitably sales have declined quite considerably as a result of the collapse in the housing market generally. In England RTB sales in the third quarter of 2008 compared with the same period in 2007 have reportedly fallen by an average of 85% and in Wales by 82% (Inside Housing, 20 February 2009). In some local authorities there had been no sales...

  9. FIVE What is wrong with it?
    (pp. 85-102)

    It is not hard to find criticism of the Right to Buy (RTB). Indeed, to a large extent the literature on the RTBiscriticism. The literature is perhaps the most unbalanced one could possibly imagine. Partly, this is because a lot of the literature comes from the early and mid-1980s when the main opposition party was still opposed to the policy and so there was some possibility of a return to the status quo. However, such a prospect ceased to be tenable once the Labour Party accepted the RTB after its landslide defeat in the 1983 election. But also...

  10. SIX What does it tell us?
    (pp. 103-112)

    We might see that after 30 years the Right to Buy (RTB) is left in a rather strange position. On the one hand, it has clearly had a transformative effect on housing in the UK. It has created 2.5 million new owner-occupiers and helped to contract social housing to a fraction of its former size and influence. It has been the source of more vitriol and ideologically charged controversy than any other housing policy. But, on the other hand, by 2008 it had shrunk to a tiny trickle of sales compared to the early 1980s, and because of the nature...

  11. SEVEN Conclusions
    (pp. 113-116)

    On the one hand, there is now little more to say. This book has sought to understand the Right to Buy (RTB) and explain its impact. It has been a book that has deliberately distinguished itself from the mainstream of writing on the RTB by concentrating not on criticising the policy but rather on explaining it. The result has been, for the most part, a fairly narrow focus, but this has allowed the RTB to stand up on its own. On the other hand, this approach has meant that there has been a lot left out. This is the price...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 117-120)
  13. Index
    (pp. 121-122)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 123-123)