News & Stories

Right to buy

In response to today's Government announcement of the extension of Right to Buy to housing association tenants, Matthew Walker, Chair of PlaceShapers, said: 

"The Government acknowledges that the country needs more, not less social housing – yet the Midlands pilot showed, among many things, that RTB resulted in fewer, and smaller, social homes. This is a step backwards at any time but never more so than at a time of a deepening housing crisis with 4m on waiting lists.  

“Members took part in the Government's Midlands pilot so lessons could be learned and we have yet to see how homes will be replaced on a like for like basis.  

“Members are keen to support home ownership, which they already do through a number of different home ownership options, but there are still many millions of low income families for whom this will never be a possibility.  It's to these people that we owe the greatest duty and why like for like replacement of homes is essential. 

"The timing of today’s announcement is also open to question. Chief executives report that the cost of living crisis is the biggest issue facing tenants, so time diverted to take RTB forward is time not spent supporting tenants through this.” 

Key findings of pilot 

- Many associations did not have many, or even any, suitable homes coming available for letting of the right size and location during the period that VRTB applicants were looking for them.” Discounts could be ported to homes owned by different landlords, but this was “tricky to implement” and resulted in just five sales. 

- While nearly all homes sold were previously social rent, only around three in 10 were predicted to be replaced with that tenure. Most rented replacements were expected to be for affordable rent, while around one in 10 will likely be for shared ownership. 

- While 58% of the homes sold had three bedrooms, only 48% of replacements are set to be that size, with a higher proportion likely to be two beds (43% of replacements versus 31% of homes sold). Landlords told RSM that they were concerned about the loss of larger homes due to “acute shortages” for families in temporary accommodation or suffering from overcrowding. 

- Report researchers estimates that if the policy was rolled out nationally, 32,000 homes would be sold in the first year, with 223,843 after a decade. That would translate into a £2.1bn bill for the Treasury in year one and £14.6bn over the 10 years. For context, the 2021-2026 Affordable Homes Programme is worth £11.5bn and intends to fund 180,000 homes.