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Javid denies Right to Buy policy is a ‘work in progress’

Sajid Javid has defended the government’s Right to Buy extension policy in an appearance before the Communities and Local Government Committee.

MPs asked the communities and local government secretary why his department had not produced an assessment of the financial impact of the policy, which was initially promised in the first month of the financial year in March.

The Right to Buy extension was a key plank of the controversial Housing and Planning Act, which passed earlier this year, but was dismissed as speculative and unclear by the Public Accounts Committee.

“We are still developing the details on this policy,” Javid replied. “I don’t think it’s possible to provide more financial detail on the impact until we have finalised that.”

Javid denied allegations that the policy was still a “work in progress”. He said: “There’s actually detail in train, there’s other elements that we’re still working on.”

Research from housing charity Shelter suggests that councils will have to raise £26m a year by selling off council housing in order to meet the cost of the extension.

Javid said the government intended to have the Right to Buy extension “fully in place” by the end of this Parliament in 2020.

He also refused to give a firm timetable for requirements on building starter homes, but stated that the government was “looking for the best way to implement” the requirements while delivering a financial return.

Javid added that the target of ensuring that around a third of new homes are social housing would be followed in the building of four million new homes during this Parliament.

He also promised a “very significant increase in funding” for shared ownership, saying it would help drive up levels of affordable housing.

Under shared ownership schemes, residents buy a share of their home through a housing association resale programme and pay rent on the rest.

Social care investment under review

When asked about the issue of social care funding, Javid said: “We are aware of the pressures, but we have also released significant new funding. We will keep it under review.”

In response to the suggestion, put forward last week by the Health Select Committee, that any new funding for the NHS should be directed towards social care, Javid explained that the “cumulative effect” of the Better Care Fund and the social care precept would “put local government in a much better place” to integrate fully with local health services by 2020.

A recent joint report from the King’s Fund, the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation warned that the adult social care deficit will grow to £2.3bn by the end of this Parliament. It noted that the precept will benefit wealthier authorities more than poorer ones and the Better Care Fund is backloaded, meaning it cannot solve the immediate problems.

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