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Extending Right to Buy won’t solve housing crisis – CIH

A key Conservative manifesto pledge to extend the Right to Buy to housing associations won’t solve the country’s housing crisis and is more likely to make it worse, according to the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH). 

The comment comes as David Cameron launched his party’s 2015 manifesto, where he said it was his aim to guarantee a “good life” for British workers and families, allowing them to own their home. 

The manifesto states: “We will extend the Right to Buy to tenants in housing associations to enable more people to buy a home of their own. It is unfair that they should miss out on a right enjoyed by tenants in local authority homes. 

“We will fund the replacement of properties sold under the extended Right to Buy by requiring local authorities to manage their housing assets more efficiently, with the most expensive properties sold off and replaced as they fall vacant. We will also create a Brownfield Fund to unlock homes on brownfield land for additional housing.” 

Cameron stated that through these pledges an estimated 1.3 million extra families will be given the security of their own home. 

However, Ruth Davison, from the National Housing Federation – which represents housing associations – said it was “the wrong solution” to the UK’s housing shortage as it would benefit “some of the most securely housed people in the country on the lowest rents”. 

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) added that extending Right to Buy a flagship policy introduced by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, to housing associations is not going to tackle the housing crisis – in fact it could make things worse for people on lower incomes who are already struggling to access a decent home at a price they can afford. 

“Individual tenants might benefit from the opportunity to own a home, but we would be very concerned that it would result in a dramatic loss of vital social and affordable housing,” said Gavin Smart, deputy chief executive of CIH. 

“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.  And it could have a huge impact on councils’ ability to build new homes, particularly in more expensive areas like London and the south east, where it might actually make more sense for them to borrow against the value of these properties so they can fund more homes.” 

(Image: c. Jonathan Brady)

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