Monday, 04 May 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.

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