ImageSimon Kirby has resorted to out right bribery to secure his Brighton Kemptown constituency, by appealing to Eric Pickles to increase the ‘right to buy’ discount cap from £75,000 to £100,000.

Simon Kirby who has come under sustained attacked for voting for war in Syria, provoking war with Russia, meddling in labour policy and most recently being accused of murder cover up, has fallen back on a proven vote winner to recoup his loses.

ImageWhether Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, increases the cap in line with London prices is yet to be seen.

Critics of the Right to buy scheme brought in by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980’s, claim that ‘Selling off the nation’s affordable housing stock at a time when there are two million families on waiting lists must be mad but still the powers-that-be press on,’ says Henry Pryor, a housing expert and commentator.

Continuing ‘At a time when we already have a critical shortage of affordable housing in this country, this amounts to little more than asset-stripping and will ultimately mean fewer genuinely affordable homes for families struggling on low incomes.’

ImageAccused of grabbing favorable headlines at a time of public discontent, Simon Kirby speaking at a number 10 Downing Street event to publicize the scheme says  ‘An increase in the maximum discount would help even more families in Brighton and Hove to get onto the housing ladder which is something we would all welcome.’

Daniella Lipszyc, a financial claims lawyer from Ultimate Law, also questions whether council tenants will really benefit from the proposals. She says we must remember that in the past right-to-buy has left a number of owners vulnerable after being mis-sold mortgages following inappropriate advice from brokers, lenders and solicitors who were more concerned with commissions than due diligence. ‘The scheme had problems with valuations to start with – no one had a true idea of the property’s value because it was the first time it had been bought and they had nothing else to gauge it against,’ she says.

When the market took a nosedive, some who exercised their right to buy found they would have been far better off as tenants. ‘Right-to-buy mortgage holders are three times more likely to be repossessed’, says Shelter, ‘so rigorous affordability checks are crucial if we are going to prevent tenants from diving in without truly being able to afford to buy their home. Those buying flats will probably have to factor in a “service charge” towards the upkeep of the whole building, which could mean an annual bill of several thousands of pounds.’

Whether Simon Kirby’s appeal to Eric Pickles leads to an increase in the cap is yet to be seen.

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