Prime Minister says government has agreed deal with housing associations over right to buy

David Cameron tells the Conservative Party conference this means the first housing association tenants will be able to buy their homes from next year

David Cameron
David Cameron

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said the government has struck a deal with housing associations over the proposal to extend the right to buy to housing association tenants.

In its manifesto for this year’s general election, the Conservative Party said it would give the tenants of housing associations the right to purchase their homes at a discounted rate, as local authority tenants are already able to do.

The National Housing Federation, the umbrella body for housing associations, most of which are exempt charities regulated by the Homes and Communities Agency, objected to the original proposals and, in liaison with the government, developed a counter-proposal that would allow tenants to buy their homes at discounts, but with the government making up shortfall between the price paid and the market value of the property.

Last week, the Charity Commission said that although the revised proposals were more acceptable than the original plans in terms of how they related to charity law, it still had concerns and would be speaking further with the NHF and the government in the coming weeks.

Giving his keynote speech at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester yesterday, Cameron said some people had claimed extending the right to buy to housing association tenants would be impossible because the housing associations "would never stand for it".

But he said: "Let me tell you something. Greg Clark, our brilliant communities secretary, has secured a deal with housing associations to give their tenants the right to buy their homes. That will mean the first tenants can start to buy their homes from next year. Yes, as we said in our manifesto, 1.3 million to be given the chance to become homeowners."

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said its position on the issue remained unchanged from last week.

David Orr, chief executive of the NHF, said: "We are pleased that the government has accepted our offer to independently deliver an extension to the right to buy. This is a better and more flexible right to buy for residents, for housing associations and the nation’s housing supply.

"We made the offer on the back of sector-wide support for our proposal, which addresses our initial concerns about supply and independence. This new right to buy will help housing associations retain the independence that has allowed them to channel £76bn in private investment into home building over the last 30 years, and see them get the full market value of homes sold – crucial for building replacements."

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