Proposals to extend the ‘Right to Buy’ to housing association tenants – announced by David Cameron at the launch of the Conservative Party election manifesto in Swindon today – are the wrong solution to Britain’s housing crisis says housing association group GreenSquare.
GreenSquare owns and manages around 11,000 housing association homes for rent in Swindon and Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, and Gloucestershire.
Commenting on the announcement, and supporting analysis by the National Housing Federation (NHF), GreenSquare chief executive Howard Toplis said:
“We don’t have an ownership crisis – we have a housing crisis. The problem is not with demand, it is with supply. If followed through, this policy would deprive future generations of decent affordable housing.
“Housing associations are private social enterprises that exist for the benefit of the community. We offer homes for rent to people on low incomes and those most at need. And when these tenants move on, the homes are still available for renting to other households in housing need.
“The entire history of Right to Buy is that it has reduced the number of homes available for social rent. Figures show that 1.88 million council homes in England have already been sold under the Right to Buy, while local authorities have built just 345,000 homes over the same period.
“Five years ago public funding for new homes was cut by two thirds and we have been told consistently since then that there is no public money available for housing.
“The £17.5 billion the Conservative party is planning to raise from the sale of high value properties to fund this proposal is enough to finance nearly one million new shared ownership homes open to everyone, not just the lucky few already well housed in secure social homes.”
Ruth Davison, Director of Policy and External Affairs at the National Housing Federation, said:
“While extending Right to Buy will see some people being able to buy their own home with help from the taxpayer, these are people already living in good secure homes on some of the country’s cheapest rents. It won’t help the millions of people in private rented homes who are desperate to buy but have no hope of doing so, nor the three million adult children living with their parents because they can’t afford to rent or buy.
“To use public assets to gift over £100,000 to someone already living in a good quality home is deeply unfair.
“Beyond questions of fairness, the public simply don’t buy that it will help people struggling with their housing costs. Just 16% think extending Right to Buy to housing associations is good way to tackle the affordability crisis, in comparison to 46% who want the Government to give more public money to housing associations and councils to build more affordable homes that will benefit more people.
“We fully support the aspiration of homeownership but extending Right To Buy to housing associations is the wrong solution to our housing crisis. Following 40 years of successive governments’ failure to build the homes the country needs, soaring rents and house prices and the biggest baby boom since the 1950s, ensuring that there enough homes today and tomorrow must be our nation’s top priority.”