The chief of UK housing associations has warned Right to Buy expansion is a ‘dangerously bad’ policy that would hamper national ambition.
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, has said Government plans to extend discounts on buying a home to 1.3m tenants in housing association properties would ‘deny the aspirations of many, many more people than it will support’.
Councils would be forced to sell off thousands of their most valuable social residences to fund the policy, with three London boroughs recently claiming they would face losing 3,500 council homes in five years under the proposals. Orr has now said this approach could hamper long term house building, failing to leave enough money for future construction.
Communities secretary Greg Clark has maintained the policy would ‘add to housing stock’, with every housing association property sold being ‘replaced one-for-one with a new property’.
Prime minister David Cameron has also backed the plans, claiming it will see ‘a new generation given the security of a home of their own’.
However Orr has said the measure ‘completely fails to make the most efficient possible use of public investment’, which isn’t ‘workable or coherent’.
‘At its heart, imposing the Right to Buy on housing associations is a policy that will deny the aspirations of many, many more people than it will support,’ he said.
‘If the Government can force councils to sell their high value stock and from the proceeds give £100,000 or more to one household to support that household's aspiration to own, it denies the chance to use that £100,000 to build new homes. That money, with the additional private borrowing that housing associations generate, could deliver four brand new homes for shared ownership with all of the associated economic benefits that come from building new homes.
‘To meet the aspiration of one already well housed family denies the aspirations of four others. There are many other measures we could develop with government that support ownership aspirations and the aspirations of those who need a good, secure affordable home in a much more cost effective way.’
‘If ever there was a time for Parliament to intervene and stop dangerously bad legislation it is now,’ Orr added.
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