UK Politics

Ex civil service chief Kerslake attacks right-to-buy plan

Houses Image copyright PA

Giving housing association tenants the right to buy their homes will do nothing to solve the housing crisis, a former civil service chief has warned.

Lord Kerslake will attack David Cameron's flagship housing policy for England in his maiden House of Lords speech next week, he told The Observer.

The government says every property sold off will be replaced by a new affordable home.

But the policy has been attacked by Labour and housing associations.

Under the scheme, which was the centrepiece of the Queen's Speech last week, 1.3 million tenants in housing association homes in England will be able to buy their properties at discounts of up to £104,000 in London and more than £77,000 elsewhere.

The government says housing associations will be compensated with money raised by forcing local authorities to sell off their most expensive housing stock as it becomes vacant.


Ministers say this will ensure affordable properties are replaced but some housing associations have threatened to sue the government if they are forced to sell their assets.

Lord Kerslake said: "I will raise my serious concerns about the policy in its current form.

"I think it's wrong in principle and wrong in practice, and it won't help tackle the urgent need to build more housing and more affordable housing in this country, particularly in London."

The crossbench peer is a former head of the civil service and until February was the most senior official at the Department of Communities and Local Government.

Housing minister Brandon Lewis said: "It is right that as high value council homes become empty they should be sold to fund new affordable housebuilding in the same area.

"The proposals in the Queen's Speech will do that and more, extending right-to-buy level discounts to over a million housing association tenants, with the homes sold replaced on a one-for-one basis."


Labour said Lord Kerslake's criticisms were "damning and telling".

Shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds said: "Labour supports people who want to buy their own home but housing experts have lined up to say the government's proposed policy is uncosted and will lead to fewer affordable homes.

"The government broke their promise to replace homes sold through right to buy on a one-for-one basis over the last five years.

"No one will believe their promises now and more of the same will lead to an increase in the number of families desperate for a home at a price they can afford."

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