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Right to Buy extension wrong in principle and practice says peer

  • 01/06/2015
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Right to Buy extension wrong in principle and practice says peer
David Cameron's plan to extend the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants has been brought into question by Lord Bob Kerslake, the former senior civil servant at the Department of Communities and Local Government.

In a report by Inside Housing, Kerslake said the policy, which would open up the scheme to 1.3m housing association tenants, was ‘wrong in principle and wrong in practice’.

As part of a new housing bill, announced in the Queen’s speech, the government wants to open up the eligibility of the scheme which only allows council house occupants to buy their homes at a discount below the open market.

Figures from the National Housing Federation have suggested 850,000 housing association homes may be eligible for the scheme at a cost of £11.6bn if 100% take up is achieved.

It intends to fund the additional discounts, which have been predicted to rise to as much as £103,000 in some cases in London, by forcing local authorities to sell off high-value vacant council homes. The receipts are also expected to fund the building of more affordable homes in the area to replace those sold off.

But Kerslake told the social housing publication that the principle behind this policy is flawed because housing associations have taken years to build up that stock which should not be viewed as government assets for sale.

He also questioned whether the government had added up its sums correctly. He argued that the local authority sales had to fund the extended discounts, building new homes and contribute to the government’s brownfield regeneration fund.

Kerslake is a crossbench peer, appointed to the House of Lords on 17 March this year.

He will give his maiden speech in the House of Lords on 2 June where he is expected to ask the government to consult with all major stakeholders involved in and affected by the policy change including mortgage lenders.

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