Right to buy scheme faces uncertain future

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Question marks remain over the future of the right to buy scheme, which has helped thousands of people buy their homes.

In 1980, the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher introduced the right to buy policy, which enabled thousands of people living in council houses to buy their homes at discounted prices.

When the coalition government came into power in 2010, it extended the right to buy scheme with higher discounts. This led to an increase in the number or people buying their social housing properties.

The government last year announced plans to extend the scheme to housing associations. Since the properties are sold at well below market price, the government will compensate the housing associations for the loss in value. To help pay for this, the government wants councils to sell off their more expensive homes.

With few new council houses being built, there are a finite number of homes that councils could sell. This has led to speculation that the right to buy scheme could be scrapped in England sometime in the future.

Wales is planning to abolish their right to buy scheme, and Scotland will phase out the initiative by this August.

Pilot schemes for five housing associations with properties in London, Liverpool, Oxfordshire and the Thames Valley have started, and eligible tenants can apply now. Successful tenants will usually need a mortgage to finance the purchase, and are also advised to take out mortgage protection insurance to protect mortgage payments if they become unemployed.

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