Tories pledge right to buy campaign
Mark Prisk has announced a new government campaign to boost the take-up of the right to buy.
The housing minister, speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative party conference yesterday evening, praised his predecessor Grant Shapps for reviving the right to buy policy.
Mr Prisk said: ‘But now it’s time to spread the word. In the next few weeks we will be announcing a concerted government campaign to help many more people in council houses fulfil their dream and own their home.
‘It is just as important that we as party members who passionately believe in the principle of owning their own home get out there and spread the word as well.’ Mr Prisk urged Conservative councillors and MPs to promote the scheme ‘just as we did when Margaret Thatcher led the way’.
This came after the communities secretary Eric Pickles promised in his speech yesterday to reverse moves by Labour councils to keep ‘their tenants in the dark about these new extended rights’ to buy.
‘Their council leaders have pledged to fight tooth and nail against the right to buy,’ he told the conference. ‘A right can only be exercised if you know about it. So I can pledge my department will be talking direct to tenants to inform them of their right to buy.’ It would be a ‘great’ policy campaign for next May’s local elections, he added.
The revived right to buy offers a discount of up to £75,000 for council tenants who want to buy their home. The government has pledged each home sold will be replaced with a new home let at an ‘affordable’ rent at up to 80 per cent of the market rent. Inside Housing revealed last month that only 4 per cent of interested tenants have completed a sale under the scheme.
Mr Prisk also said that the £1.8 billion affordable homes programme, under which providers are expected to charge higher rents at up to 80 per cent of the market rent in return for grant, is ‘ahead of schedule’.
He added: ‘We are thinking about how all the three markets, social, private and owner occupy work together and where government can intelligently lever in investment to grow the numbers and raise quality.’
Mr Prisk was speaking at the launch of Homes for Britain, a coalition of 40 house builders, associations, homelessness charities and private landlords, which aims to raise the profile of housing and lobby the government with one voice.
John Cridland, director general of the Conferedation of British Industry, also spoke at the event. Mr Cridland said he is passionate about housing ‘being the biggest thing’ the CBI does at this time. He said: ‘We need a housing equivalent of the Olympics, we need to show that we can get on and do something on time, on spec, today.’