DCLG pushes on with housing association ‘Right-to-Buy’ plan

26 May 15

The government is to press ahead with plans to extend the Right-to-Buy scheme to housing associations tenants, despite warnings that this would hurt the public finances.

Announcing the government’s Housing Bill today, which was confirmed in the Queen’s Speech today, communities secretary Greg Clark said extending the scheme, which currently applies to council house tenants, would help spread home ownership to millions.

The controversial initiative was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron during the general election campaign. Under the proposals, housing association tenants would be given discounts of up to £77,900 outside London and £103,900 in the capital to buy their home, the same level as the ‘rebooted’ scheme for council homes. To pay for the programme, and to fund the replacement of housing association properties sold, local authorities would be subject to a duty to sell off their most expensive properties as they fall vacant.

During the election campaign, the Institute for Fiscal Studies warned this amounted to ‘a substantial giveaway to a relatively small number of households’. Researchers Daniel Chandler and Richard Disney also highlighted that the sale of public assets such as council homes would worsen the UK's underlying public finances.

However Clark today confirmed the government would go ahead with the scheme as part of new legislation, which would also include a new ‘Right to Build’ and set out plans to deliver 200,000 Starter Homes for first-time buyers.

‘Our Housing Bill will offer over a million people a helping hand onto the housing ladder,’ he said.

‘That is what a government for working people is about – making sure people have the security they need to build a brighter future for them and their families.’

Housing minister Brandon Lewis added that the Right to Build – giving people a right to be allocated land with planning permission for them to self-build or commission a local builder to build a home – would add to housing construction, which are already at the highest since 2007.

‘Anyone who works hard and wants to get on the property ladder should have the opportunity to do so, which is why tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech will include measures so a million more people have the chance to do exactly that,’ he added.

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