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The Legacy of ThatcherismAssessing and Exploring Thatcherite Social and Economic Policies$
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Stephen Farrall and Colin Hay

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265703

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265703.001.0001

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Thatcherism and Housing Policy

The Legacy of Thatcherism

Peter A. Kemp

British Academy

This commentary argues that there were two main waves of housing policy innovation under Mrs Thatcher. The first focused on extending home ownership, particularly via the new right to buy that enabled council tenants to buy their home at a large discount from its market value. For Thatcherism, home ownership was self-evidently an unalloyed good and an almost virtuous state; and, as such, was in sharp contrast to the perceived serfdom of council tenancies. But if some tenants could not afford, or did not want, to buy their home, other buyers would have to be found. Accordingly, the second wave of policy innovation centred on the demunicipalization of rental housing. This mainly took place via large-scale stock transfers of council housing to new housing associations. The transfer of large swathes of council housing to new landlords ranks alongside the right to buy as Thatcherism’s most lasting achievements in housing policy.

Keywords:   Housing, home ownership, right to buy, demunicipalization of rental housing

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