The UK Government’s highly controversial Right To Buy policy will be officially scrapped in Scotland from this Weekend (midnight on Sunday), protecting more than 15,000 homes available for social renting.

Between the years 1979-80 and 2014-15 a total of 494,580 council and housing association homes were sold under Right to Buy in Scotland, a policy that started with Margaret Thatcher before being revamped and extended by David Cameron, with only 163,000 being replaced.

Just 35% of homes in Scotland were owner-occupied when Right To Buy began, rising to 63% over the next 20 years.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “The end of Right to Buy marks a major milestone in the Scottish Government’s efforts to build a sustainable housing policy for the future.

“It is absolutely vital that people can access social housing when they need it most. Since Right to Buy was introduced in 1980, nearly half a million council and housing association homes have been sold to their tenants.

“By ending the Right to Buy we are protecting up to 15,500 social homes from sale over the next ten years and safeguarding this stock for future generations.

“The Scottish Government is doing everything possible to maximise our investment in housing and to deliver on our ambitious target of 50,000, affordable homes over the lifetime of this Parliament, including 35,000 social homes.

“But with thousands of people on waiting lists for council and housing association houses, it was only right for us to scrap this scheme as we could no longer afford to see the social sector lose out on badly needed homes.

“Giving everyone access to a good quality affordable home is a priority for this Government and we will continue to assist people into home ownership through a range of shared equity schemes including Help to Buy (Scotland) and Open Market Shared Equity to help thousands of households own their own homes.”

Dr Mary Taylor, CEO Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, added: “SFHA is delighted that all forms of the right to buy policy in Scotland have now come to an end and this hasn’t come a moment too soon. Right to buy has had its day and has no place in modern Scotland.

“SFHA and its members long campaigned for an end to RTB, and warmly welcomes the end of a policy which has led to a considerable reduction in the availability of truly affordable social rented homes and contributed to the growing intergenerational inequality in terms of access to affordable quality housing.

“Going forward, we have a chance in Scotland to adopt a housing policy that is focused on the supply of well-designed, energy efficient social rented homes that are truly affordable to people on low incomes.”

Right To Buy has come under heavy criticism in recent years, with opponents highlighting how one in four homes sold are now being let by private landlords.

They also ague that higher rent in the private sector is responsible for a soaring Housing Benefit Bill, as a shortage is social homes pushes more people into private renting.

Fraser Stewart, who runs New Gorbals Housing Association in Glasgow, told Herald Scotland: “The classic story is of children buying their mother’s flat worth about £90,000 for £25,000, she dies and they it rent for £650 per month to precisely the client group we would have let it to for £350, except we do repairs, provide a service, are accountable and properly regulated.

“When you factor in the discounts and additional housing benefit it boils down to handing about £95,000 to a random private landlord, as well as a free asset which could be worth £130,000 in a couple of decades.”