I was very interested to read Philip Aldrick’s column in The Times on Saturday 19 December. As readers of this blog will know, I have been a strong advocate for both UK and Scottish governments using Housing Associations as the vehicle to deal with the nation’s housing crisis. As I have previously highlighted the quirk in the system is how Housing Associations currently value their property – i.e. they value them at build value subject to depreciation rather than open-market value. This is highlighted in Philip’s column.
I would advocate, rather than the current UK government plan, that by simply changing the rules to enable Housing Associations to value their assets at open-market value and allowing them to borrow against this, it would free up a considerable sum which could be reinvested into building new properties to alleviate the housing shortage. As readers will know, I am also an advocate of right to buy, as I do think that giving people the opportunity to move on to the housing ladder and for them to have a financial, as well as an emotional stake in the property, is very important. I would not rush to re-introduce right to buy and certainly when it is re-introduced, say after five years, I would restrict the discount given. However, it is interesting to see that this issue is now moving up in the agenda and I would strongly urge the Scottish government to investigate this and use the Housing Associations as the tinder to ignite the house building that is so urgently required.
Partner – Head of Property