Saturday, 28 February 2015

Shapps pledges no net loss of homes with right to buy

The housing minister has pledged that there will be no net loss of housing under the government’s revamped right to buy scheme announced at the Conservative party conference yesterday.

Speaking exclusively to Inside Housing at the event in Manchester, Grant Shapps also stressed that housing benefit would take the strain to ensure the 100,000 homes built as a result of the policy change and let at affordable – or near market - rather than social rents would be accessible to everyone.

Mr Shapps was speaking following an announcement earlier in the day by prime minister David Cameron that the government was to increase the discounts available on the sale of council homes.

Mr Cameron said that the proceeds from the sales could be used to build up to 100,000 homes. However these would be let at higher ‘affordable’ rents at around 80 per cent of the market rent than those they replaced.

Mr Shapps said: ‘Right to buy was a fantastic, liberating policy which assists where people are hardworking and aspire to own their own home.

‘However it was a mistake then [when the policy was introduced in the 1980s] and would be now not to replace the homes that are sold off. There will be no net loss of housing – this is a one for one policy.’

Mr Shapps added: ‘If a tenant can afford to pay an affordable rent level then that makes sense to charge that. But if someone can’t afford that then housing benefit will still be there to ensure this works.’

He also pledged that the revamped right-to-buy policy would have no impact on the deal that has been struck with local authorities to reform the housing revenue account system, due to take place in late March.

Currently this deal would see 75 per cent of the proceeds of any home sold under the right-to-buy taken by the Treasury.

When pressed on whether this would remain the case Mr Shapps said that the detail of the policy would be consulted on as part of the government’s housing strategy which is due to be launched in November.

He added that he was ‘determined’ to ensure local authorities could afford to replace those homes sold under the right-to-buy reforms.

Readers' comments (27)

  • Rick Campbell

    So, a home will be bought under RTB and Shapps will wave a magic wand and a replacement home just appears -- absolute codswallop!

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  • And will they be the same SIZE homes? Currently any large (4 bed plus) house gets bought under RTB because the large family occupying it has lots of hardworking children who can chip in - this then takes lots of large homes, which are acutely needed, out of the stock. Will they be replaced like-for like?

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  • Of course it is obvious that there will be no net loss of homes, but there will be a net loss of social rented homes. How does that benefit society?

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  • Whatever one thinks about the right-to-buy in principle, now is certainly not the right time to be pushing it forward again. Yes, Grant Shapps assures us that there will be no net losses to the housing stock but this fails to take account of the fact that affordable rent is not social rent, so does not replace like for like. Affordable rent will not only drastically reduce security of tenure, its higher rents will also act to either exclude the poor or increase the housing benefit bill. This is not to mention the large amounts of cash that will be lost from the public coffers by offering tenants drastically discounted sale prices. And with the housing market so precarious for households of all tenures, including homeowners, this policy begs the questions; why take the risk?

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  • F451

    How refreshing for a politician to accept past errors on behalf of their party - that deserves credit, and credit is duly given.

    However, the Minister once again has made a headline grabbing statement but offers no substance behind it. There is no indication that landlords will now keep 100% of the proceeds. There is no indication of the mechanism that will ensure that a 3-bed house will be built to replace a 3-bed house sold, or a 2-bed flat for a 2 bed-flat etc. There is no explanation how the landlord is to afford the replacement regardless of discount to the tenant or if the rebuild cost is higher than the RTB income.

    However, I'm sure the media will break the tradition of a lifetime and actually press the Minister to reveal these details - or will the media just roll over to have it's belly tickled, again?

    The other issue raised, and once again completely missed in terms of comment or challenge, is the statement from Shapps that Housing Benefit will take the strain. It is already strained to breaking point. Shapps has previously stated that benefit dependency must be ended. Yet here he is saying that he will increase dependence and increase cost - exactly what people in the sector have been saying the result of his unworkable policy would be.

    How will the nation afford the higher benefit bill?
    How will the tenants gain liberation from ever higher benefit dependency?

    Shapps stands exposed as having no new solution other than the two failed Tory planks of extended Right-to-buy and 'let the benefit system take the strain'. This should be his deathnell, but without any competent opposition and a tame press and sector media, there is nobody of note to hold the Minister to account on this.

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  • As ever with RTB the fact is that for every house sold a new house does not get built....and when new houses do get built they don't just appear.

    ALready some excellent points being made by others here especially around the size and shape of the properties that will be built as affordable homes. I for one can see the only way forward being bedsite as nothing else is going to be affordable with the new benefit changes.
    Unlike most Tory politicians I am worried about vulnerable people

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  • Rick Campbell

    On the subject of Tory planks ... if HB disappears into UC how will increasing the cost keep the amount down as IDS suggests?

    Or am I being just being thick (again)?

    Perhaps there's a lot of politicans with their pants on fire?

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  • Rick Campbell

    Perhaps the way forward will be welfare housing in large buildings where the genders are segragted, children schooled and the occupants forced to labour for their keep?

    In other words -- the return of the workhouse.

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  • Maybe I'm missing somrthing here - RTB of a property at a social rent at a higher discount level than currently allowed. Then an expectation that in the same particular area there will be a suitable site for a new property available with planning permission and a builder willing to build at the price that the original house was sold for on the same day as the sale goes through so that there isn't a decrease in the total stock of socially rented properties....Oh silly me, I forgot that this will not be social rent but at Affordable Rent... still, can't make the sums add up....

    Looks like we have a consensus on this issue!

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  • Melvin Bone

    I thought this was what you lefties wanted?

    Sell a home+build a home= 1 more home + 1 more home to rent.

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