During the Margaret Thatcher era, legislation was introduced that gave secure tenants of council properties, the “right to buy” their homes, often at a significant discount to the market value of up to 50% and sometimes with assisted mortgages. Ironically, the Labour Party had proposed this policy in their Manifesto for the 1959 General Election which they went on to lose. Local councils had always been able to sell properties but after 1980, the right for a tenant to buy a rented home became legally enshrined.
The intention was clearly to remove a burden from local authorities, particularly of maintaining older properties and to allow capital to flow from the state to people who could spread wealth through the generations and through society. If the hope was that local authorities who received a half of all the proceeds could use these funds to invest in new housing, then this aspiration floundered immediately as they were initially required to apply these receipts to reducing their debt.
The generation that grew up during Beatlemania, the early Comprehensive school system, The Cold War (with The Berlin Wall as its iconic symbol) and listened to Radio Caroline as Alf Ramsay began his World Cup preparations is now reaching retirement age. The lucky ones are considering “downsizing” from large family homes, releasing equity to add to their pensions and looking forward to a long and active retirement.
100 years ago, there were only 13000 people in Britain over the age of 90. Today there are almost half a million and there are over nine million over the age of 65. This part of the population has grown by over a million in the past ten years and is now growing more quickly. Continue reading →