South Yorkshire Labour MPs' concern over extension of right to buy scheme
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PM Boris Johnson yesterday (June 10) announced that 2.5 million tenants who currently rent their homes from not-for-profit housing associations will be given the right to buy them.
The government has also pledged to build a new social home for every one sold, and will also launch an independent review of access to mortgage finance for first-time buyers, with the aim of making it easier for them to buy by widening access to low-deposit finance such as 95 per cent mortgages.
The Prime Minister has also pledged to change welfare rules so that the 1.5 million people who are in work but receive housing benefit will be able to use their benefit towards a mortgage, rather than it automatically going directly to private landlords and housing associations.
Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central and former regional mayor, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “The proposal to extend Right to Buy to housing associations underlines this clapped-out Government’s approach to public policy.
“The reality is that selling off housing association properties will only diminish the availability of social housing in the UK, whilst raising obvious legal concerns around forcing private companies to sell their assets at a knocked-down rate.
“Instead the Government should come back with a serious and sensible proposal for how to fix the housing crisis in this country.”
Sarah Champion, Rotherham’s MP, echoed Mr Jarvis’ concerns, adding: “The government are regurgitating a failed policy of two years ago to try and deflect attention away from their failing PM.
“Housing associations are charities and not-for-profit organisations.
“Their priority is to provide homes for the 4.2 million people currently in need of social housing in England – this includes one in every five children, many of whom are living in overcrowded conditions or homeless in B&Bs and other temporary accommodation.
“Right to Buy pilots have shown there’s not enough money from sales to build new social homes to replace those sold, meaning a net loss of social housing.
“Far from helping, the Governments scheme would make things much worse for those wanting a home.”
Gill Furniss, MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough and Shadow Minister for Roads called instead for the government to “ramp up the building of affordable housing”, and “crack down on unfair leasehold charges”.
In a statement, Ms Furniss said: “The Government has no long term plan to solve the housing crisis, the plans announced this week won’t begin to tackle the major problems with housing supply in this country.
“Some of their policies will even make the situation worse.
“To tackle the housing crisis we need to ramp up the building of affordable housing, crack down on unfair leasehold charges and ensure money for cleaning up brownfield sites is released as a matter of urgency.
“Labour would take these steps that would alleviate the crisis we are currently seeing.”
Louise Haigh MP for Sheffield Heeley, said: “There is a housing crisis in the country – with fewer and fewer people able to get on the housing ladder and a crippling shortage of social and affordable housing.
“The Government has diagnosed the problem but as ever is completely incapable of delivering on the solution.
“The announcement of the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme does nothing to deal with the massive supply problem of housing and as ever, is not properly thought-through and will only bring more uncertainty to people and the housing market.
“People in Sheffield need a government that will back them and their ambitions for themselves and their communities. This scheme does not do that and is nothing more than an unworkable gimmick to save the Prime Ministers own skin.”