Charity Commission says it is concerned about right to buy and housing associations

The regulator says that even with the changes suggested by the National Housing Federation, there are implications for charity law

Regulator: put out statement in response to shadow minister's views
Regulator: put out statement in response to shadow minister's views

The Charity Commission has said it is concerned about government proposals to extend the right to buy to housing association tenants.

In a statement responding to a letter from John Healey, the shadow housing minister, who last week expressed concerns about the proposals for charitable housing associations, the commission said it had spoken with officials in the Department for Communities and Local Government earlier in the summer "to raise a number of concerns that we had about how the original right-to-buy policy might interact with charity law".

It said the commission had since been given a copy of the new proposals drawn up by the National Housing Federation, the umbrella body for housing associations, which might result in changes to the government’s plans, but these still raised concerns.

"Our preliminary view is that there are aspects of the new proposals which reduce some of the charity law concerns we had raised with the DCLG," the commission’s statement said.

"However, they also raise, as did the original proposals, issues about their impact on how trustees administer charitable housing associations in the best interests of their beneficiaries for the public benefit.

"The commission will be speaking to NHF and DCLG to explore these further and contribute to the detail of any proposals taken forward in the coming weeks."

The National Housing Federation described the plans in April as requiring a "fundamental rewriting of the agreement between government and civil society".

Last week, Greg Clark, the communities secretary, indicated that the government might be open to amending the plans in line with proposals from the NHF, which have since been accepted by NHF members, that would ensure housing associations received the full market value for any properties sold under the scheme, with the government paying the shortfall. 

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