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Caithness News Bulletins February 2005

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4 February 05
Sales of council housing since Labour took office have passed the 100,000 mark in Scotland for the first time.
According to new analysis from Shelter, sales of council homes under the controversial Right to Buy scheme have now reached 100,896 since Labour took office in May 1997.

At a major housing conference in Edinburgh on 17 January 2005, Gavin Corbett, Head of Campaigns at Shelter urges Malcolm Chisholm to ensure that a policy designed for the 1970s plays no part in shaping the housing landscape of the 21st century. 

Gavin Corbett said:

'Many Labour politicians are deeply troubled by the impact that council house sales have had on rising homelessness.  But only modest steps have been taken to reform Right to Buy so far.  Partly this is because, back in 1997, when Labour came to power, it was thought that Right to Buy had run its course.  With sales since then now topping 100,000, it is clear that Right to Buy is still a major factor in the acute affordable housing shortage.

'It is important that Malcolm Chisholm takes the radical road on Right to Buy.  He can choose to scrap Right to Buy for all new tenancies and look at limiting it for existing tenants. 

'A recent survey showed that 93% of people think that it will be more difficult for today's children to find a home as they grow into adulthood.  If that bleak prospect is not to come true, then the minister must not be swayed by conservative voices.' 


  1. The Right to Buy figures are taken from a new analysis of Scottish Executive statistics by Shelter. Overall, more than 400,000 council homes have been sold, with 100,000 of those sales occuring since May 1997.  Since RTB sales are published only by quarter the exact dates are between 1 July 1997, the first full quarter after Labour took office and 30 June 2004, the last full quarter for which figures are published.  In the second quarter of 2004, RTB sales of council houses were 2,921, taking the total sales tally over 100,000 for the first time.
  2. Under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 ministers are required to review Right to Buy by 2006.  Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm has recently affirmed that he wishes to take forward that review.
  3. Shelter believes everyone should have a home and helps 100,000 people a year fight for their rights, get back on their feet, and find and keep a home. We also tackle the root causes of Britain's housing crisis by campaigning for new laws, policies and solutions.  Shelter launched the Million Children Campaign in April 2004 aimed at getting government to commit to ending bad housing for the next generation of children. For more information about Shelter visit www.shelter.org.uk
  4. Shelter offers a free national housing advice line, supported by Bradford & Bingley, on 0808 800 4444, and provides advice online at www.shelter.org.uk/adviceonline
4 February 05
Speed of Council House Sales slowing across Scotland - Mary Scanlon MSP Asks Why?
Highland Council is failing to complete more than half of its proposed Council House sales within 6 months, according to new figures published by Audit Scotland.

The 'Scottish Councils Performance Indicators' for 2003/04 show that only  45.8% of Council House sales were completed within 26 weeks during the year 2003/04.

This figure continues the decline in Council efficiency, as the year
2002/03  saw 55.3% completed in the time scale, which was also a drop from 57.8% in the previous year.

Highland MSP Mary Scanlon was disappointed to hear these new figures, commenting; "It is incredible that it takes over 6 months to sell more than 50% of Council Houses, when Private Sector sales can be processed within 1 calendar month.

"This delays home ownership for many tenants unnecessarily.

"Highland Council is not alone in this though, as the overall figure for Scotland has also shown a decrease in efficiency over the last three years."

The percentage of Council House sales completed within 26 weeks across Scotland was 56.6 in 2003/04, a decrease of 10.8% since 2001/02.

Mary said; "I am disappointed to hear that Highland Council's performance is 10% below the Scottish Average."

Mary has submitted a Parliamentary Question regarding this decline;
Parliamentary Question submitted by Mary Scanlon MSP, 26.1.05:
To Ask The Scottish Executive why only 56.6% (on average) of council house sales are completed within 26 weeks, as stated in The Audit Scotland Housing and Social Work Performance indicators 2003/04; comparing the performance of Scottish Councils, compared to 60.1% in 2002/03 and 67% in 2001/02?

Figures recently published by Audit Scotland, 'Scottish Council's Performance Indicators' for 2003/04 show that only 45.8% of council house sales were completed within 26 weeks during the same year and that Highland Council's performance on the speed of council house sales is below the Scottish average.

The council house sales performance indicators assume a direct and exclusive relationship between the performance of council staff and the overall time taken to complete transactions. The possibility that delay may arise from a range of external factors is not taken into account.

Although a number of external reasons can cause delays in council house sales, Highland Council is far from complacent and a review of internal processes between Council services - Housing, Property & Architectural Services, and Corporate Services - was put into place prior to the publication of the performance indicators for 2003/04.

For the first 6 months only in 2004/05 (April to September) the percentage of total sales of council houses completed in 26 weeks in Highland has shown an encouraging increase on the previous two year's figures.