On this day in history : 20th December 1979 – More than five million council tenants in Britain are to be given the right to buy their homes as The Housing Bill is published….

The right-to-buy scheme gave council tenants, who had lived in their homes for up to three years, a 33% discount on the market value of the property…. This discount increased the longer they had lived there, up to 50% for those who had been resident for twenty years or more…. Additional help was offered in the way of a 100% mortgage from the local authority….

Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Government believed a property owning population would be a more socially responsible one and that the social structure of Britain would change for the better…. Michael Heseltine, the then Secretary of State for the Environment, stated “This Bill lays the foundations for one of the most important social revolutions of this century”….

Semi-detached council homes, Seacroft, Leeds – typical of the many now privately owned – Image credit : Chemical Engineer – Public domain

The scheme was strongly oppose by Labour – but nevertheless The Housing Act came into force on the 3rd of October 1980…. By November 1982 more than 400,000 households had bought their homes and the scheme extended to leasehold property tenants…. By 2003 it is estimated some 1.5 million council homes had been sold….

There is now a shortage of social housing across the UK….

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