Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland needs its own Right to Buy scheme

By David McNarry

Tory dreams of "Right to Buy" is a very attractive policy. Unfortunately, it won't work in Northern Ireland.

David Cameron's vivid picture of a whole new generation living in the security of a home of their own in a property-owning democracy, lamentably won't be considered for Northern Ireland homemakers, unless it is kickstarted locally.

Buying the home you rented was a tremendous release for thousands of families and it worked for most.

Ukip would support a policy similar to that introduced in the 1980s by Margaret Thatcher; however, things in the provision of rented accommodation have dramatically moved on. Today, instead of the Housing Executive, we have housing associations.

In the Eighties, the Housing Executive didn't have large borrowings, as the housing associations have today. Then, the Housing Executive disposed of homes through the "Right to Buy" scheme. Thousands of properties came into private ownership and it was a great success.

Ukip supports the principle of giving the tenant currently renting today the right to own the home they have lived in for years.

However, let no one forget that the-then Housing Executive and the politicians of the day failed to ensure that the money received in the selling process was put back into replacing the stock lost to the rented sector.

The consequences of this are seen today with there being a dire shortage of affordable homes.

Northern Ireland has never recovered from this momentous blunder. Hence, the perpetual problem we have of limited numbers of affordable houses.

Northern Ireland's social housing tenants should have the same rights and abilities to move up into home ownership as will apply to the English and Welsh under Cameron's plans.

In plain English, Northern Ireland should have direct access to our own "Right to Buy" scheme. No ifs, or buts, or maybes.

In doing so, the money returned has to be used only to replenish stocks without delay.

Families win, house-hunters win, rents are kept down and builders and their suppliers have employment assurances.

David McNarry MLA is leader of Ukip in Northern Ireland

Belfast Telegraph

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