Will Forster

Mayor of Woking and Lib Dem County Councillor for Woking South Learn more

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Woking’s ‘Earn Your Deposit’ scheme highlights Conservative Government failures

by willforster on 5 February, 2018

The local Lib Dems and I have welcomed Woking Borough Council’s proposals for an ‘Earn Your Deposit’ scheme and highlighted the local Tories’ U-turn on the Government’s Right to Buy policy.

Woking Council’s housing company, Thameswey Housing, will soon offer its over 400 tenants the opportunity to earn money towards a deposit on their first home.  The scheme would be available to tenants who pay their rent on time, look after their home and garden and do not cause a nuisance to neighbours.  The monetary value a tenant could earn after a qualifying period would be dependent on meeting the scheme’s criteria and the size of property they rent.

The Conservative Leader of the Council has written to Central Government to ask them stop Right to Buy in Woking, but extend that the new ‘Earn Your Deposit’ scheme to Council housing tenants.  Previously, the Tories wanted to keep the Right to Buy and extend it to Housing Association properties, even though the policy reduces the amount of affordable housing available locally.

Clearly there will be details to be worked out, but I think the ‘Earn Your Deposit’ scheme has great potential to give hope to tenants that they can buy a home of their own in the future.  That a scheme such as this is needed shows the failings of the Conservative Right to Buy programme.  Allowing Council housing tenants to buy their own homes helped so many get a home of their own, however everyone knows the scheme failed by not allowing profits from sales to be used to build homes for the next generation.

Although there have been some improvements in recent years, and Government allows a proportion of profits to be kept by local authorities, this money can only be spent on new Council housing if the Council can find the funds to match the amount.  My Lib Dem colleagues and I highlighted last year that Woking Council gave money back to the Government because it could not find these funds, and that is an appalling situation to be in.

Only three in ten council homes in Woking sold off under Right to Buy have been replaced since 2015 – 50 Council homes were sold off by Woking Council since April 2015, while just 17 have been built under the Government’s replacement scheme.

I am really pleased the Conservatives in Woking have finally woken up to the housing crisis facing so many in Woking and agreed with us Lib Dems that current rules on Right to Buy only reduce much-needed affordable housing numbers locally.  I hope Central Government takes note of what Woking Council is saying – Ministers and MPs should be supporting local councils to provide more affordable homes and certainty not selling off what exists at the moment without replacement.

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