Many former council tenants who bought their homes through right-to-buy legislation feel trapped, new research has found.
The measure was brought in by the Tory government of Margaret Thatcher 30 years ago but has failed to mobilise the workforce as expected, according to the research by St Andrews University.
Dr Maarten van Ham of the Centre for Housing Research said yesterday that right-to-buy had had a limited effect on homeowners.
“The right-to-buy has given many households access to home ownership, but not to better places,” he said.
“So what have they gained? It concerns me that many are stuck in the same house and the same neighbourhood.”
Since its inception in 1980, more than 2.7million homes have been sold under the scheme. Among other things, it was aimed at giving those in social housing more freedom to move to respond to job opportunities in different regions of the country.
Council tenants found it very difficult to move between different areas in the 80s, according to Dr van Ham.
The researchers compared the moving behaviour of social renters in the UK who exercised their right-to-buy with traditional owners and tenants.
It shows that right-to-buy failed to free up labour as hoped, with the mobility of right-to-buy owners falling between that of social renters and traditional owners.
The findings also suggest that right-to-buy has trapped some owners in their neighbourhoods.
Dr van Ham added: “Although the best houses sold, most of them are not in the best neighbourhoods, and people find it difficult to sell.”
But Tory MSP Alex Johnstone said the report showed that social mobility had improved for those who had bought their home.
He said: “Right-to-buy has been an enormous success, and would continue to provide more families with a foot on the housing ladder but for the political vandalism of Labour, the SNP and the Lib Dems, who are trying to scrap it for new tenants and new social housing.”