Was Angela Rayner right to buy?


The shadow levelling-up secretary has taken flak for exercising her right to buy, but Labour too has a long history of dalliance with the concept of selling council homes, writes Ben Flatman

Angela Rayner continues to make headlines in relation to the former Manchester council house that she bought in 2007 and sold in 2015. Regardless of the capital gains tax questions she faces, Rayner’s Right to Buy purchase is seen by many as a bad look for Labour. 

This is especially the case because she herself has criticised the Conservatives’ 2012 decision to give “loads and loads of discount” to other tenants who have chosen to follow in her footsteps and buy their council home – appearing to take issue with the generosity of the scheme, rather than the principle itself. In fact, Rayner is an enthusiastic supporter of Right to Buy, unapologetically defending her own decision as an example of a working-class woman asserting her economic independence. 

The issue of council house tenants buying and selling their homes – and therefore denying others access to social rented accommodation – does not appear to have overly concerned her. This perhaps reflects that Right to Buy has never quite been the clear-cut Tory-Labour dividing line that it has been portrayed to be.

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