MPs: Extend right to buy homes

Housing estateTenants in housing association properties should be given the right to buy their homes to help end the shortage of social homes, two senior MPs have said.

Conservative David Davis and Labour's Frank Field joined forces to promote the move in a report for the IPPR think-tank.
They urged ministers to extend the policy to around a million people presently excluded from the opportunity offered to council house tenants.

Doing so could generate billions of pounds, all of which should be ploughed back into building new homes to ease growing waiting lists, they said.

The Government is conducting a consultation on housing reforms - including raising the discounts offered to council tenants in England to a maximum of £50,000.

Ministers have promised that any home bought under the revamped scheme - first introduced by Margaret Thatcher - will be replaced by a new affordable home for rent.

The MPs said that as part of the review, ministers should examine the impact of extending the right-to-buy to the growing numbers in housing association properties.

"In 1980, Margaret Thatcher's government gave council tenants the right to buy their homes. This policy transformed the lives of some of the least affluent in society, helping two million Britons become homeowners for the first time," they wrote. "It was a policy for the many, not the few.

"However, the current rules mean many housing association tenants who are willing and able to buy their home are not allowed to do so. Preventing social tenants from owning their home ties up billions of pounds of public funds that could be better used to help people on to the housing ladder. "

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said: "The Government is determined to pull out all the stops to help those who aspire to buy their first home. This includes social housing tenants and we will continue to look at ways to support everyone who wants to get on the property ladder."
© 2012 Press Association
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