Dr John Doherty is right to point out that the sale of council housing under a right-to-buy scheme was originally a Labour policy (Letters, 12 February). However, he omits to mention the differences between the Labour scheme and that carried out by Mrs Thatcher.
Under Labour the money raised was to be used to improve existing stock and add new builds. Under Mrs Thatcher a large taxpayer-funded subsidy was granted and most of the money raised was diverted to the Treasury. Local government was forbidden to use what little money it was allocated in the council housing sector.
Hence local authorities lost a valuable asset and the ability to provide social housing. In other words, a disastrous ill thought-out programme which is largely responsible for our present homelessness and housing problem, though it did help Mrs Thatcher finance the huge rise in unemployment and sickness benefit resulting from her economic policies.
Dr Peter Estcourt
South Chailey, East Sussex
• Dr John Doherty disputes Andy Beckett’s description of right to buy as being Mrs Thatcher’s brainchild.
Superficially correct; however, the damage done to the concept of the council house, available for life at a truly affordable rent, was the huge discount offered plus the banning of use by councils of the money accrued from these sales to build further council houses.
The unstated Thatcherite policy was to destroy the council housing estates and their Labour-voting habits. A total success from her point of view, but a tragedy for those subsequently in desperate need of houses they can afford to rent, but which are now as rare as hen’s teeth.
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
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