14th April 2015
The Conservatives have pledged to extend the Right to Buy scheme as they launch their general election manifesto today.
The party says it will extend the Right to Buy to up to 1.3 million tenants of housing associations in England, giving them the chance to purchase their properties at a discount, and create a billion pound Brownfield Regeneration Fund to unlock 400,000 new homes on brownfield land.
Labour says the Right to Buy extension would cost £4.5bn and is “unfunded”.
Right to Buy was a originally a policy of Margaret Thatcher’s government in the 1980s.
The rules currently allow about 800,000 housing association tenants the right to acquire their homes with smaller discounts than residents of local authority homes, but the new pledge would make the same reductions available to them.
Around 500,000 housing association tenants who do not currently have any purchase rights would also be brought into the scheme.
The Conservatives say the move would be paid for by forcing councils to sell one third of the most expensive properties in their area once they are vacated.
The party insists that say every home sold will be replaced “on a one-for-one basis” with more affordable property and nobody will have to leave their home.
People living in council houses tenants can by their homes for a maximum of £77,900 across England or £103,900 in London.
Scotland and Wales are abolishing the scheme in order to safeguard affordable housing.
Ruth Davison, director of policy and external affairs at the National Housing Federation,which represents housing association, says: “We fully support the aspiration of homeownership but extending Right to Buy to housing associations is the wrong solution to our housing crisis.
“A very conservative estimate of this policy puts the cost to the tax payer of at least £5.8 billion. Following 40 years of successive governments’ failure to build the homes the country needs, soaring rents and house prices and the biggest baby boom since the 1950s, ensuring that there enough homes today and tomorrow must be our nation’s top priority.”
She adds: “While extending Right to Buy will see some people being able to buy their own home with help from the taxpayer, these are people already living in good secure homes on some of the country’s cheapest rents.
“It won’t help the millions of people in private rented homes who are desperate to buy but have no hope of doing so, nor the three million adult children living with their parents because they can’t afford to rent or buy. To use their taxes to gift as much as £100,000 to someone already living in a good quality home is deeply unfair.
Davison says that, according to a poll, 60% of the public believe that it would be unfair for social housing tenants to get a discount to buy their home while private renters do not. Just 16% think extending Right to Buy to housing associations is good way to tackle the affordability crisis, in comparison to 46% who want the Government to give more public money to housing associations and councils to build more affordable homes that will benefit more people.
Davison concludes: “Housing associations are private social enterprises that exist for the benefit of the community, who already build homes of all types – for sale, private and social rent and shared ownership.
“As well as depriving future generations of decent affordable housing, extending Right to Buy would cost the taxpayer an estimated £5.8 billion – no paltry sum in times of austerity and figure that could grow into the tens of billions as more become eligible. This £5.8 billion is enough to finance 300,000 new shared ownership homes open to everyone, not just the lucky few already well housed in secure social homes.”