THE government should pay for the extension of the right to buy to housing association tenants rather than letting the burden fall on cash-strapped councils, MPs scrutinising the Tories’ Housing Bill said yesterday.
Under the Tory flagship policy announced last year, the cost of replacing housing association homes sold to tenants would be met by making local authorities sell “high-value” council properties, but this proposal is “extremely questionable,” the communities and local government committee said.
The proceeds of the council property sales would be used to compensate housing associations for loss of assets if households chose to buy their homes at discounts of up to £103,900 each.
But the committee warned that the policy could reduce the availability of truly affordable housing because the government has yet to specify how it will fulfil its promise to build at least one like-for-like local replacement for every home lost to privatisation.
Councils are expected to have to sell at least 22,000 high-value homes and it would be “all but impossible” to replace them, Local Government Association spokesman Peter Box said.
Construction union Ucatt acting general secretary Brian Rye said: “This Housing Bill causes me sleepless nights.
“Ordinary people have the right to a decent home for life. So it’s good to finally see some opposition to this attempt to steal the country’s assets for the Tories’ own personal gain.”
Labour’s shadow housing minister John Healey said: “Government policies should be funded by government, not a cash grab from councils forced to sell off their own housing to pay for right-to-buy discounts.”