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Response to Conservatives' Election Manifesto

PlaceShapers comprises over 100 community-based housing associations with strong social values. Our Members own and manage over 750,000 homes between them and are at the forefront of the provision of new housing for those in need of genuinely affordable rented homes.

We work hard to establish constructive working relationships with politicians of all persuasions but we reserve the right to shout out loud and clear when something comes along that we feel strongly about. And not surprisingly, today is one of those days. We are appalled that the Conservatives, who claim to want to ensure homes are provided for future generations, think that extending the Right to Buy to housing association tenants is the answer.

Extending home ownership, at taxpayers’ expense, to those who are already well housed in the housing association sector would make an already disastrous situation a whole lot worse. Leaving aside the legality of any government trying to interfere in what independent charities do with their assets and the adverse financial impact such a move would have on HA business plans, this cynical ploy would remove desperately needed socially rented homes from those who will never be in a position to buy. Where are they supposed to live?

PlaceShapers supports routes into homeownership but thirty-five years’ experience of the Right to Buy for Council tenants has shown that promises to replace sold units on a like-for-like basis have come to nothing. Only 345k new homes have been replaced from the 1.88m rented homes already lost. LAs and HAs are already making difficult decisions to dispose of more valuable stock in order to cross-subsidise new building. And of course new “affordable” homes are often not that at all with rent levels at up to 80% of market level now required.

PlaceShapers are in it for the long-term and do groundbreaking work to build sustainable communities. Our members are determined that the legacy they have built up over many years will continue and, with colleagues elsewhere in the sector, will do whatever we can to fight this nonsense.

As our Chair, Tony Stacey said this morning: "The gloves are off now. We will not sit back and allow PlaceShapers' businesses and the social capital we have built up for decades to be destroyed in this way. We need to solve the housing crisis, not privatise the assets of independent charitable housing organisations."

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