Autumn Statement 2015: Right to Buy pilot scheme kicks off

Tom Wilson
25 November 2015
Tenants living in housing associations will have greater opportunities to own their own homes, as the Chancellor rolled out plans to extend the Right To Buy to housing association tenants in a move which could ultimately affect 1.3 million households.The pilot scheme, which affects the tenants of five housing associations, will kick in at midnight tonight, permitting tenants to apply to buy the houses they live in. David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: "Like the chancellor, housing associations want to build even more new homes that are affordable to rent and affordable to buy. This historic announcement provides the conditions for people at every level of the housing market."However, a new report suggests that replacing housing association homes sold under Right to Buy with those for sale could drive up costs for low-income tenants and the taxpayer.The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimates that there will be 75,000 fewer low-cost homes becoming available to let over the next five years if the homes built to replace those sold are available as shared ownership rather than as low-cost rentals. These people will be forced into the bottom rung of the private rental sector.Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “To get to grips with the housing crisis we desperately need more affordable homes across all tenures, and Right to Buy will help unlock home ownership for some families who would not otherwise have been able to afford it.“But this research shows how important it is to keep up the numbers of genuinely affordable rented homes. To make sure that this policy doesn’t drive up poverty in the long term, the Government must ensure that every low-rent home sold is replaced by another of the same tenure, same cost and same locality.”Documents released by the Treasury today show Right To Buy take up among local authority tenants has increased by 319% since 2012. Adam Male, founder of online estate agent, added: “The Right to Buy scheme is a great idea for those for whom it is applicable. Anything that helps people get their foot on the property ladder has to be a positive thing, and with our Tenant Survey research showing that nearly 15% of tenants cite lack of available property as their biggest barrier to buying, any incentive that can help with this will be a huge benefit to many. Warning “However, it is important to get the balance right, and not forget that even with help from government schemes, not everyone is in a position to buy, and some residents are reliant on rental property. A fifth of tenants that we surveyed do not expect to ever own, and the selling off of local authority housing, coupled with the additional stamp duty on private investors, raises concerns that the private rental market may be facing a price hike. For the tenants who are not in a situation to buy, this could be disastrous.”

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