Thursday, 24 April 2014

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.’

 

Readers' comments (17)

  • Colin McCulloch

    Another nail in the coffin for English Social Housing. Happy to see that the Scottish and Welsh administrations are considering stopping RTB.

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  • Iron Fist

    That was a short honeymoon period Mr Prisk. Can we now cue straight to the divorce and get a minister who will advocate a return to sensible housing policies please?

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  • From Nevernever Land of the Liberals, through fantasy land of Labour, to the Grimms fairy tales of the Tories.......no wonder this country is in such a mess and totally unlikely ever to be able to Great back into Britain.

    What a load of clap trap and if Boris Johnson, Ed Milliband and Vince Cable are supposed to be the future, I might as well slit my wrists now before 'unaffordable rents', sold off social housing, and no jobs and Ed Balls-up ratchetting up even more debt, take us into an ever more frightening nightmare.

    Every day I look for a chink of light, that someone at last understands what is going on...some hope!

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  • so the government minister charged with making sure the whole country is adequately housed in properties they can afford and build a future in advocates the disposal of the only housing available to the most needy. maggie will be proud of him - sell em off and devil take the last out. didnt take long to show his colours did he ??

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  • A right to buy can only be exercised if you have the means to raise a mortgage or have the funds to buy! It's not just about information Pickles? I have examples in tower blocks where enquiries have been made about RTB only to be hit with a massive service charges on projected spending over the next 5 years, inflated prices and the inability to obtain a mortgage on these types of properties. Bring back the Tenants Incentive Scheme as a way of keeping social housing for those who need it and enabling those who can and choose to buy a viable option and a real foothold onto the housing ladder.

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  • Joe Halewood

    A 4th relaunch of RTB2 by my reckoning!

    Interesting how article sees Prisk also include the 'affordable (sic) rent' model which he claims is ahead of schedule - no figures obviously, now come on!! -something he cant of course say for RTB.

    Wow! When the Tories have to use the inept "affordable rent model" as deflection from other housing policies RTB2 must be really really bad!!!

    Anyone remember this time last year when RTB2 was THE main policy, not just housing policy, to come out of last years conference?

    Oh dear!

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  • So, decades of my taxes have paid to provide this housing which has been let at sub market rents to households which may never have worked (so the rent comes from benefits - more of my taxes), so that those tenants can be offered massive discounts to buy them when my own kids can't hope to compete - and that is fair?! I know, why not sell them at market value and use the receipts to build an equal or greater number of houses for those really needy tenants displaced. Simples.

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  • RTB was always a nail in the coffin for social properties. Was introduced by the Tories so wealthy parts of London could own their council house at a knocked down prices – therefore Mrs Thatcher hoped to convert their vote to Tory. All RTB monies went down the central government black hole – all spent now of course!

    RTB would only ever work if the maximum discount equalled the current re-build price and monies were ring fenced at a local government level to reinvest in new social housing.

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  • The tories said before the election that they would give council tenants
    a grant to give up their council tenancy , and to use these funds to become home owners , thereby releasing a useful empty home to
    assist those on the waiting lists.This scheme was to be called a foot
    on the ladder but where is it now / has it been dropped.?

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  • Prisk speaks with forked tongue when he claims: "we as party members who passionately believe in the principle of owning their own home" is Conservative policy. The Montague report, commisisoned by Cameron, clearly notes that the owner occupation is barrier to private rented accommodation. In other words, allowing people to own their home means less opportunities for 'investors' to make money out of people.

    Twenty five per cent of Tory MPs are landlords. Cameron and Osbourne's entire social class is based upon being landlords, their wealth and power dating back to the days when land was power. RTB is simply one of the bullets being fired at social rented housing, alongside LSVT, 'affordable' rents, insecure 'flexible' tenancies, allocations policies based on 'putting something into the community' (shooting burglars? snitching on people having abortions? flogging off the country's biggest manufacturer to France for closure?) etc etc.

    The end game is for probably no more than a quarter occupation and the rest paying rent to private landlords. With high rents on totally insecure tenancies for a toxic mixof housing and 'rooms', with little or no rights of redress against poor conditions and landlord abuse.

    Think I'm being alarmist? If the current rates of tenure change continue this could quite easily be the position within thirty years.

    What is really sad and indeed frightening is how many people working in housing are quite happily running with this, deploying the usual meaningless language of 'innovative solutiuons', 'levering in investment', 'new ways of working', 'empowering', 'working in partnerhsip with institutional investors'. Pass the sick bag Alice...

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