The Government has announced its intention to extend the ‘Right to Buy’ (RTB) scheme to housing associations. If this goes ahead, the RTB initiative would be accessible to around 2.5 million housing association residents.
Boris Johnson said he intends to give greater freedoms to housing association residents to buy their homes and he said the Government is planning to work with the sector during the coming months to make this happen.
Making RTB available to housing association residents is not a new policy, it was first suggested by David Cameron and then by Theresa May but it was not implemented on either of those occasions.
The Government has indicated that the scheme would be capped initially and would then grow over time. Each home that is sold would then be replaced ‘like for like, one for one’, which is a message Boris Johnson has reiterated.
There are concerns around housing quality: historically, RTB has led to the sale of the most attractive social homes in higher demand areas, with those who cannot afford to buy a property left with reduced choices. Over the long-term, depleted social housing stock could see further demand shifted to the private rented sector and potentially increasing the number of homeless people.
The National Housing Federation (NHF) has been clear that its priority is providing social homes for people who need them, and that it is concerned that extending the RTB scheme would result in a loss of social housing.
Housing associations across the country are already under pressure to continue providing good quality, affordable homes; upgrading existing stock to reduce carbon emissions and reduce household energy bills; and delivering on the priority of building safety.
We will watch this space and await further news from the Government in terms of how this scheme may be taken forward.
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