Government launches ‘voluntary’ right to buy pilot

17 Aug 18

The government has launched a pilot allowing housing association tenants to buy their social homes.

The ‘voluntary’ RTB scheme, which will extend the policy to housing association tenants as well as those of councils, in the Midlands was started yesterday with £200m of funding.

Communities secretary James Brokenshire said: “This government is committed to providing opportunities for people to get a foot on the property ladder and to have a place they can call their own.

“Our £200m investment into the pilot is the first step in helping housing association tenants realise their dream of home ownership.”

‘Voluntary’ RTB discounts will be set at the same rate as the traditional RTB scheme but some eligibility criteria differs, the government confirmed. 

Places on the scheme will be allocated via a ballot to ”ensure fairness and manage interest within the funding available”, the government said.

The trade association the National Housing Federation has worked with the government on the policy.

Its chief executive David Orr said: “It will be a success for everyone involved only if every home that is sold is replaced with a new affordable home, and if the application process is a smooth as possible for tenants.”

The NHF put forward the ‘voluntary’ RTB idea in 2015 in an attempt to extend the policy to housing associations by agreement rather than legislation.

It suggested the board would have full control over which homes to sell and that housing associations would receive full market value for the properties sold.

Last week, the government was criticised for not providing any new funding in its much-anticipated social housing green paper.

In June, a £1.67bn government grant was announced from the £9bn affordable homes programme to deliver 23,000 new affordable homes, including 12,500 for social rent.

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