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25.01.16

Five housing associations kick off Right to Buy pilot

The five housing associations taking part in the government’s pilot ‘voluntary Right to Buy’ scheme have launched the trial today (25 January), ahead of a potential country-wide roll-out in the summer.

Applications for the pilot scheme opened across L&Q in London, Riverside in the Merseyside area, Saffron Housing in South Norfolk, Sovereign in Oxfordshire and Thames Valley Housing Association across Surrey and Hampshire.

These pilots will help inform the design and implementation 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’. It also relies on the controversial Housing and Planning Bill gaining royal assent.

Communities secretary Greg Clark MP commented: “Anybody who works hard and aspires to own their own home should have the opportunity to realise their dream. The Right to Buy is central to that and has already helped more than 46,000 into homeownership since we reinvigorated the scheme in 2012.

“Thanks to the historic voluntary agreement with the sector a further 1.3 million housing association tenants now have the chance to open the door to their own home, starting with this trailblazing pilot scheme.”

Under the trial, housing association tenants will be eligible to the same 70% (or £77,900) discount to purchasing their homes as social housing tenants currently enjoy.

Ann Santry, Sovereign’s chief executive, said the pilot will help make sure that every home sold is replaced, meaning the supply of affordable homes will not be diminished.

Applicants across housing associations must meet specific criteria to apply for the scheme, including having been a tenant for a public sector landlord for at least 10 years.

The idea for extending the scheme was originally floated in September when the National Housing Federation secured a deal with Clark, who said the proposal would help the housebuilding initiative as every home sold “would trigger a new home being built” 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 despite this, a government spokesperson has previously said that Whitehall will “bring forward measures” to force them to offer the deal to tenants if they do not comply with the policy.

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