Homes for the South West responds to Right to Buy extension plans

Homes for the South West, a coalition of some of the largest housing associations in South West England, has responded to the Government’s plans to extend the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants.

The Homes for the South West group supports people’s aspirations to own their own home and agrees that giving tenants the opportunity to buy the home that they have invested in, both financially and emotionally, can be a positive thing. We welcome the government’s commitment to work closely with housing associations on the design of any new Right To Buy scheme. We will work together with customers, Government, and stakeholders to ensure we can find a system which works for our customers and for our sector.

However, any extension of Right To Buy for housing association tenants must be supported by a clear set of principles as previously agreed by the National Housing Federation and the Government, including the rule that every social home sold would be replaced on a like-for-like basis. We were pleased to see the Prime Minister’s reiteration of this promise in his announcement.

Even with this funding guarantee in place, it typically takes 3-4 years to buy land, secure planning and build a new home, and in city centres in particular there is often no land available. This will create a significant problem when there are 4.2m people in need of social housing in England today, and we should be increasing the supply of homes rather than simply maintaining or even reducing it.

As well as adequate funding, we’d ask Government to ensure there’s a system of proper checks on the eligibility of the applicant, who’s funding the purchase and tougher controls over the use of the property after it’s sold to reduce conversion into buy-to-let in the private rented sector.  

Our position is not an ideological one, it’s purely practical – the country needs, now more than ever, a reliable, affordable supply of homes and we would support any government policy that we believe could deliver this.