Sunday, 14 February 2016 21:36

MPs voice concern over Right-to-Buy

Written by  Ruralcity Media
MPs voice concern over Right-to-Buy

AN influential committee of MPs has expressed concerns over the government's Right-to-Buy plans.

Discounts for housing association tenants should be funded by central government rather than by a levy on local councils, says a report by the Communities & Local Government committee.

"The government proposes to fund the Right-to-Buy discounts for housing association tenants with the proceeds from the sale of high value council homes," the committee said.

"However we believe that public policy should usually be funded by central government, rather than through a levy on local authorities."

The committee also called on the government to protect rural communities by maintaining and protecting the provision of affordable housing in rural areas.

    See also: Right-to-buy could 'worsen rural housing crisis'

The terms of the housing associations' voluntary agreement with the government allowed for portable discounts to be offered in place of certain properties, it said.

"The committee considers that while the portable discount might mitigate the impact of extending the Right-to-Buy to rural properties, it still remains unclear how it will operate."

Committee chairman Clive Betts MP said: "The fundamental success of this policy will depends not just on whether more tenants come to own their home but on whether more homes are built."

A number of unresolved issues with the government's policy could have a detrimental effect on the provision of accessible and affordable housing – particularly affordable rented property.

Mr Betts said the government should set out in more detail on how it would meet its target of at least one-for-one replacement of the sold homes.

This was particularly so given issues such as the availability of land, the capacity of the building industry and the uncertainty of income from council home sales.

The committee also voiced concern that large numbers of homes sold through the statutory Right-to-Buy for council tenants have quickly become private sector rental properties.

Measures should be explored to restrict homes sold through the right to buy ending up in the private rented sector, it said.

Starter Homes should not be built at the expense of other forms of tenure if there is a local need for affordable rented accommodation, said the committee.

It was important that homes for affordable rent were built where the need existed – particularly as Starter Homes could now count towards satisfying section 106 agreements.

The government is expected to respond to the committee's findings in the coming months.

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