Communities Secretary Greg Clark appeared to have quietly backed down to housing associations on “Right to Buy”. Furious Housing Association fat cats were opposing giving tenants the chance to own their own homes because they argued they were being forced to sell their assets at a discount. Following negotiations and heavy lobbying over the summer, Clark has this afternoon said he is considering their new offer to ‘voluntarily’ introduce the extension, ensuring market rate sales with discounts to tenants subsidised by the government. This looks like a complete cave in and effectively a U-turn on a manifesto promise.
“We will extend the Right to Buy to tenants in Housing Associations… It is unfair that they should miss out on a right enjoyed by tenants in local authority homes.” Conservative Manifesto 2015
Guido isn’t quite sure how it could be described otherwise. If landlords only have to sell to tenants on a voluntary basis, tenants won’t have a ‘right’ to buy, landlords will have an “Option to Sell”, just as they do currently…
UPDATE: DCLG sources get in touch to insist there is no U-turn, that the proposal from the Housing Associations will have to “absolutely ensure a right-to-buy”. They were unable to confirm whether or not legislation would be required. When Guido asked if the proposal seen today matched the right to buy commitment in the manifesto he was told “We haven’t read it”.
UPDATE II: Greg Clark calls to tell Guido forthrightly “If they [housing associations] want to extend the right to buy to more people that is all well and good. My bottom line is that their proposal must match up to the ‘Right to Buy’ manifesto commitment and if they want to do it voluntarily they can start implementing it right away. There will be no compromise on introducing ‘Right to Buy’.”