Right to Buy Scheme

Department for Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 22nd January 2015.

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Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Shadow Minister (London), Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, how much his Department has spent on marketing in relation to the Right to Buy scheme in London in each year since 2010.

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

Holding answer received on 05 January 2015

This Government is committed to supporting home ownership, and giving a helping hand to social tenants to move up the housing ladder. But our reinvigorated Right to Buy can only be exercised by eligible tenants if they know about it. It is also important that social tenants have sufficient information about their rights to make an informed decision, and to ensure that home ownership is the right choice for them in light of their financial circumstances.

Precise figures on spending in London cannot be disaggregated from the national Right to Buy campaign. We can identify £378,393 of spending in 2012-13 and £68,500 in 2013-14; there was no London-specific spending in 2010-11 or 2011-12. Figures for 2014-15 are not yet available.

I appreciate that the Labour Party in London has effectively called for the Right to Buy to be abolished, and will oppose social tenants being informed. Such are the enemies of aspiration. The Right to Buy improves social mobility and helps build mixed communities. As well as increasing home ownership and supporting new build construction (from replacement affordable homes), it gives something back to families who have worked hard, paid their rent and played by the rules. It allows buyers to do up their home, change their front door, improve their garden – without getting permission from the council. It gives people a sense of pride and ownership not just in their home, but in their street and neighbourhood.

Total national spending was £0 in 2010-11, £17,728 in 2011-12, £1.4 million in 2012-13 and £1.0 million in 2013-14. To place our information campaigns in context, DCLG has cut spending on marketing and advertising from £9.9 million in 2009-10 to £2.0 million in 2013-14.

The rt. hon. Member is a former Minister in this Department, so will be well acquainted with communications activity under the last Labour Government, such as departmental spending of:

  • £1.1 million a year on external public relations, despite having 103 in-house communications officers;
  • £15,000 on plugging the “Sustainable Communities summit” that was subsequently cancelled;
  • £1 million on marketing and public relations for eco-towns, despite the fact not a single house was ever built;
  • £3,520 on re-naming Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Fire Services to the Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser, during one of New Labour’s republican phases of purging public references to the Monarchy;
  • £38,200 on sock puppet lobbyists, LLM Communications, astro-turfing friends for the friendless Regional Spatial Strategies;
  • £1,371 on re-branding of John Prescott’s ‘Office of the Deputy Prime Minister’ to the cut-price and pointless ‘Deputy Prime Minister's Office’;
  • £3,830 on the subsequent logo for the new Department for Communities and Local Government, followed by burning a further £24,765 on dropping the “D” and renaming it “Communities and Local Government”, despite being neither, in a futile attempt to sound achingly trendy.

We run a tighter ship. Right to Buy and the Fire Kills campaign are now the two primary campaigns we run, and both have a clear public benefit, in strong contrast to the culture of spin and excess in the spendthrift Labour years.

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