Latest Public Sector News

07.12.15

First housing association in Right to Buy pilot opens registration process

The first of five pilot housing associations to test the government’s voluntary Right to Buy scheme, confirmed in October, has begun the registration process for eligible tenants in the region.

Saffron Housing will help inform the design and implementation of the reformed scheme, which will extend Right to Buy to housing association tenants to accelerate the chancellor’s vision for a ‘generation buy’ in lieu of a ‘generation rent’.

Housing minister Brandon Lewis, who met with the association last week, said: “Thousands of housing association tenants have shown interest in taking up the extended Right to Buy and this pilot is great news for helping many people in South Norfolk achieve the dream of owning their own home.”

Those living in South Norfolk who have been public sector or housing association tenants for 10 years or more can register their interest to participate.

The four other pilot associations testing the scheme are L&Q, Riverside, Sovereign and Thames Valley, covering parts of London, Liverpool, West Oxfordshire and Guildford.

The idea for extending the scheme was originally floated in September when the National Housing Federation secured a deal with communities secretary Greg Clark MP, who said the proposal would help the housebuilding initiative as “every home sold would trigger a new home being built by a housing association, on a one for one basis”.

The centrepiece of the ‘voluntary’ aspect of the plan is that associations will not be compelled to sell stock under legislation, but instead entering a voluntary agreement with the government and thus maintaining the independence of the sector.

But despite this, a government spokesman has said that if housing associations do not comply with the policy, Whitehall will “bring forward measures forcing them to offer it to tenants”.

The extension of the scheme is one of many elements of the government’s housing reform, which includes lending councils £2.3bn to regenerate their large estates, to reinvest this money in new housing stock.

Chancellor George Osborne also vowed to double the overall housing budget in an effort to meet the government’s ambition of delivering 400,000 affordable homes by the end of this Parliament.

Of these, 200,000 will be starter homes from recycled unused or previously undeveloped commercial, retail and industrial land.

Whitehall has also removed existing constraints that prevent private sector organisations to help deliver housing programmes, including the constraint to bid for government funding.

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