Boris Johnson could bring back Right to Buy for housing associations

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is weighing up whether to bring back the Right to Buy scheme for housing association tenants.

The controversial policy was first introduced Margaret Thatcher and allowed people to buy properties they rent from councils at a discount.

However the scheme was blamed for diminishing the UK’s supply of social housing stock.

Housing charity Shelter is particularly hostile to the idea of reviving the scheme.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The hare-brained idea of extending Right-to-Buy to housing associations is the opposite of what the country needs. There could not be a worse time to sell off what remains of our last truly affordable social homes.

“The living cost crisis means more people are on the brink of homelessness than homeownership – nearly 34,000 households in England became homeless between October and December last year, more than 8,000 of them were families with children.

“Right to Buy has already torn a massive hole in our social housing stock as less than 5% of the homes sold off have ever been replaced. These half-baked plans have been tried before and they’ve failed. Over one million households are stuck on social housing waiting lists in England, and with every bill skyrocketing, the government should be building more social homes so we have more not less.”

The new version of the scheme would reportedly allow 2.5 million households to buy their homes at a discount of 70%.

Seeing as it echoes an old policy, the idea is designed to prove the government is committed to its Conservative principles by turning more renters into homeowners – the latter of which are more likely to vote Tory.

Ministers are weighing up whether to use the money received from housing benefit to help people secure mortgages.

A government insider told The Telegraph: “The Prime Minister has got very excited about this. It could be hugely significant,” said a government source familiar with the discussions.

“In many ways it is a direct replica of the great Maggie idea of ‘buy your own council flat’. It is ‘buy your own housing association flat’.”

Comments 1

  1. Never thought I would agree with Shelter but I think they are dead right on this one. Pushing more social housing into private hands will just reduce the number of social homes available for the poorer members of society to rent, people who could not afford to buy anything even at a huge discount. It is estimated that around 40% of houses sold under existing right to buy schemes end up in the PRS after a few years. There may be many reasons for this, some homes may be sold due to bereavement, mortgage companies are not as tolerant of arrears as Councils and may evict, there is also the possibility of “fronting” schemes where a home is essentially bought by others to be sold on later at a profit while the existing tenant goes back into the social or into the PRS sector with their share of the profits.
    Schemes of this sort are also not fair for those who cannot get or do not qualify for social housing or those who are in the PRS or still living with parents trying to save hard to buy a place of their own, with no huge discounts available for them.
    None of these schemes will solve the housing crisis. It is estimated (Citymonitor) that to meet the existing backlog and future population growth we need at least 340,000 homes per year over the next 15 years and that 40% of them (136,000/yr) should be affordable in some way (social rent, affordable rent and shared ownership). Currently we build only around 40,000 affordable homes a year so the housing crisis will just continue.

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