Boris Johnson announces right to buy and housing benefit changes

New right to buy plans and changes for housing benefits claimants are being unveiled by the government. The schemes are being announced by Boris Johnson today as he looks to reset his government after the confidence vote.

Under proposals announced to the media, low-paid workers will be able to use housing benefits to buy their homes. In addition, the right to buy scheme will be extended for housing association tenants.

The PM will be hoping that the plans to help people onto the property ladder will be welcomed by rebel MPs and voters amid the cost-of-living crisis. Yet there are questions about how housing supply can be increased if the plans move forward – as it could reduce the public housing stock.

Johnson is set to allow lower paid workers to use their benefits to count towards a mortgage. The right to buy move is expected to allow more people to buy housing association homes at a discounted rate.

The Housing Secretary Mr Gove told the BBC’s Today programme that funding for this won’t come from the Affordable Homes Programme (which is meant for funding new social homes) but, so far, it’s unclear exactly where it will come from. It’s also unclear what sort of discount will be available to housing association tenants.

In recent months, Mr Gove has spoken openly about the importance of increasing social housing supply, so this announcement seems to contradict the direction of travel at the Department of Levelling Up and Housing prior to Mr Johnson’s no-confidence vote.

This is not a new idea

Back in 2015, then-Prime Minister David Cameron announced he wanted to make Right to Buy available to housing association tenants.

A pilot scheme was trialled in the Midlands in 2018 and it was found replacing the social homes lost was difficult.

Mr Cameron promised housing association homes sold through Right to Buy would be replaced on a one-for-one basis but there were financial barriers and, the government report noted, “the replacement properties were not like-for-like” and often not built in the same area.

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