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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Thatcher's 'right to buy' needs 21st century boost

A million housing association tenants should be given the 'right to buy', according to a new paper for IPPR by leading backbenchers David Davis MP and Frank Field MP.

To coincide with the nationwide release today (Friday) of the movie 'The Iron Lady', the think tank IPPR is publishing a paper by Davis and Field arguing for 'Right to Buy 2.0'.

In their paper, Davis and Field show that since the Thatcher Government introduced 'right to buy' in 1980, much of the remaining council stock has been transferred to housing associations. They argue that a million tenants who live in housing association properties should be given the right to buy their homes, with all of the funds generated being reinvested in new social housing.

David Davis and Frank Field argue:

"In 1980, Margaret Thatcher's government gave council tenants the right to buy their homes. This policy transformed the lives of some of the least affluent in society, helping two million Britons become homeowners for the first time. It was a policy for the many, not the few.

"However, the current rules mean many housing association tenants who are willing and able to buy their home are not allowed to do so. A million housing association tenants do not have the right to buy, while the last government's restriction of right to buy discounts also made it more difficult for council tenants to buy their home this way.

"Preventing social tenants from owning their home ties up billions of pounds of public funds that could be better used to help people onto the housing ladder. Reinvigorating and extending the right to buy would not only increase home ownership: by using all the funds raised to build new homes, the policy would lift the most vulnerable households in Britain off waiting lists, out of temporary accommodation and into a place they can call home."

Notes to Editors

Frank Field MP and David Davis MP are available for comment on their paper via the IPPR press office.

David Davis MP's and Frank Field MP's new paper - 'Right to Buy 2.0' - is available in advance from the IPPR press office and will be available to download from:

IPPR's own latest housing report - 'We Must Fix It: delivering reform of the building sector to meet the UK's housing and economic challenges' is available from:

IPPR's report - 'Build now or pay later: funding new housing supply' - is available from

IPPR's report - 'Forever blowing bubbles? Housing's Role in the UK Economy' - is available from:

IPPR's report - 'The good, the bad and the ugly: Housing demand 2025' - is available from:


Richard Darlington: 07525 481 602 / [email protected]

Tim Finch: 07595 920 899 / [email protected]