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01.06.15

Lord Kerslake to publicly criticise extending Right to Buy plans

Lord Kerslake, the former head of the Civil Service, is to publicly criticise the Conservative plan to extend the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants.

Ahead of his maiden speech in the House of Lords on Tuesday, Lord Kerslake will warn that the plans, which were in the party’s manifesto, will do nothing to address the housing shortage.

This is a point that has been reiterated across the housing sector, with the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) recently saying: “The Conservatives say that forcing councils to sell off their most valuable properties would fund this extension plus 400,000 new homes over five years – we fear the figures simply won’t stack up.”

Over the weekend, Lord Kerslake, who was the permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) until February and is now a crossbencher in the Lords, told the Observer: “I will raise my serious concerns about the policy in its current form.

“I think it's wrong in principle and wrong in practice, and it won't help tackle the urgent need to build more housing and more affordable housing in this country, particularly in London.”

In the briefing notes for last week’s Queen’s Speech, the new government declared that its Housing Bill will dramatically extend the Right to Buy to the tenants of housing associations – putting home ownership within the reach of 1.3 million more families.

“We will require councils to sell high-value council houses and put the money into building affordable homes. We will get 90% of suitable brownfield land ready for development. And we will build 200,000 discounted Starter Homes for young first-time buyers. All this will mean there are more houses for people to buy.”

PSE recently reported, however, that the flagship Tory policy of extending Right to Buy could see the government embroiled in a legal battle likely to cost the taxpayer millions.

Tony Stacey, chair of Placeshapers, which is a group of 100 housing associations, said he would “definitely” launch a challenge.

“I would definitely challenge it legally. This is so fundamentally critical to us,” he said. “It would shoot up to the top of our risk map if it was confirmed. We are duty-bound morally to fight it in any way we possibly can.”

(Image source: Cabinet Office)

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