Boris Johnson unveiled plans yesterday to make it easier for people to buy their own home by extending the Right to Buy scheme.
Speaking in Blackpool, the prime minister said that he will commit to “reforms to help people cut costs in every area of household expenditure” over the next few weeks.
He argued that the £30bn currently spent on housing benefit, of which much is currently paid as rent to private landlords, should instead be used to help people secure and pay for mortgages on their own home.
Johnson’s intention to extend Right to Buy and allow housing association tenants to buy their properties at a discounted price would in turn create fresh housing stock for investors to buy in the future.
But Tom Fyans, director of campaigns and policy at CPRE, the countryside charity, is concerned that the policy will not address the shortage of much needed properties in rural areas.
He said: “Unfortunately, this is another example of a government rapidly losing touch with the realities of rural life. Extending right to buy will do nothing to address the rural affordable homes crisis because the problem is a lack of homes in the first place. There are 176,000 families in rural areas on social housing waiting lists. These are families that could be even further disadvantaged by housing associations being forced to sell their limited homes on the cheap.
“The number one lesson of right to buy in a rural context is that it decimated rural social housing stocks. What low-income families need is hundreds of thousands more truly affordable homes to live in. Those living in the countryside are hampered by low wages and high house prices. That’s why the government needs to commit to building 145,000 social homes a year to fill the gap between supply and demand.
“The demand for social housing is growing nearly six times faster than the rate of supply in rural areas. At current rates, the backlog of low-income families needing accommodation would take 121 years to clear. This is an utterly unsustainable situation and potentially selling off the few remaining housing association properties we do have will make a bad situation immeasurably worse.”