Boris Johnson ‘plans to revive Right to Buy scheme to help the young people get on housing ladder’ 

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Millions of tenants could get the right to buy the homes they rent from housing associations to help young people get on the housing ladder, it emerged last night.

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Boris Johnson told officials in the last fortnight to develop the proposals to help ‘generation rent’.

The plan is intended to give the 2.5million households in England who rent properties from associations the chance to purchase them at a discounted price.

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It is inspired Margaret Thatcher’s scheme, launched in 1980, that allowed families to buy homes from councils. 

Michael Heseltine, then the housing minister, declared that ‘no single piece of legislation has enabled the transfer of so much capital wealth from the state to the people’ – but it infuriated the Left, who blamed the scheme for slashing the number of council homes available to people on waiting lists. 

The plan is intended to give the 2.5million households in England who rent properties from associations the chance to purchase them at a discounted price

The plan is intended to give the 2.5million households in England who rent properties from associations the chance to purchase them at a discounted price

Right to Buy: Flagship Thatcher policy that has seen more than 2.5million council homes sold off 

Right to Buy, introduced by the Thatcher government in 1980, led to more than 2.5million council homes being sold at discounted rates.

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Although some Labour-controlled councils were opposed, the Tories argued the scheme was necessary for increasing home ownership and rewarding aspiration.

The sale price of a council house was based on its market valuation, discounted initially by between 33% and 50% (up to 70% for council flats), which was said to reflect the rents paid by tenants and also to encourage take-up.

The maximum discount was raised to 60% in 1984 and 70% in 1986, but by 1988, the average discount that had by then actually been given was 44%.

Some 6,000,000 people were affected, with around one in three actually buying their property.

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Michael Heseltine, then the housing minister, declared that ‘no single piece of legislation has enabled the transfer of so much capital wealth from the state to the people’.

Justifying the policy, he said: “There is in this country a deeply ingrained desire for home ownership. The Government believe that this spirit should be fostered.

‘It reflects the wishes of the people, ensures the wide spread of wealth through society, encourages a personal desire to improve and modernise one’s own home, enables parents to accrue wealth for their children and stimulates the attitudes of independence and self-reliance that are the bedrock of a free society.”

However, many on the Left have savaged the programme, blaming it for slashing the national stock of council-owned properties and lengthening waiting lists.

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When Labour returned to power at the 1997 general election, it reduced the discount available to tenants in local authorities which had severe pressure on their housing stock, including almost the whole of London.

However, Tony Blair’s government never actually attempted to abolish Right to Buy – perhaps wary of the huge backlash that could result. 

Under the new proposals, officials are also considering using taxpayer money paid out in housing benefits to help recipients secure mortgages.

Downing Street believes the new version of Right to Buy would help poorer households in red wall seats, reported The Daily Telegraph. 

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Current Right to Buy rules lets most council tenants buy their homes at a discount. 

But housing-association tenants have limited discounts and can only buy a property acquired by an association since 1997. 

The plan to widen the scheme to all housing association tenants was included in the 2015 Tory election manifesto – but it failed to materialise.

However, there’s criticism over whether prices could still be too high and that it would not solve the housing shortage.

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A government source said: ‘The Prime Minister has got very excited about this. In many ways it is a replica of the great Maggie idea of ‘buy your own council flat’. It is ‘buy your own housing association flat.’ 

Robert Jenrick, who was housing secretary, said: ‘Conservatives must be the party of home ownership.’

Right to Buy was seen as one of the flagship policies of the Thatcher government, which transformed the life chances of many former council tenants. 

Its popularity among her ‘aspirational’ working class supporters has led to the Conservatives announcing numerous plans to widen the scheme in recent years.

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David Cameron’s government increased the discounts available to council tenants looking to buy their homes to £75,000 and £100,000 in London.   

The Government is desperate to find ways to make it easier for younger people to get on the housing ladder, but its plans for housing reform were left in tatters late last year after a backlash from Tory MPs. 

Ministers had said they wanted to overhaul the planning system to allow 300,000 homes a year to be built, in what would have been the biggest shake-up of the system in 70 years. 

The reforms would have given councils mandatory targets for the number of houses that would need to be built in each area. 

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Local authorities would then have been required to divide areas into three categories – protected, renewal and growth. 

Protected areas such as the Green Belt would get limited development.

In renewal areas, councils would be told to look favourably on development. 

Applications that meet agreed local plans in growth zones would be approved automatically. 

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The plan was inspired by Margaret Thatcher’s scheme that allowed families to buy homes from councils

Mr Johnson campaigning in Burnley ahead of the local elections

The plan was inspired by Margaret Thatcher’s scheme that allowed families to buy homes from councils. Pictured right: Mr Johnson campaigning in Burnley ahead of the local elections 

Right to Buy: What discounts can you currently get? 

The Right to Buy scheme allows most council tenants to buy their council home at a discount.  

You can apply to buy your council home if: 

  • It’s your only or main home 
  • It’s self-contained 
  • You’re a secure tenant 
  • You’ve had a public sector landlord for 3 years, but it doesn’t have to be 3 years in a row 

The maximum discount is £87,200 across England, except in London boroughs where it is £116,200. It will increase each year in April in line with the consumer price index (CPI).

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The discount is based on how long you’ve been a tenant with a public sector landlord, the type of property you are buying, and the value of your home.  

Source: Gov.uk 

Labour, which favours development of housing on former industrial ‘brownfield’ sites, has indicated it would oppose the legislation, describing it as a ‘developers’ charter’. 

Meanwhile, Tory MPs had feared the new system of nationally imposed targets would lead to overheating in the South, while earmarking too little construction in the North. 

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Mr Johnson’s attempt to relaunch Help to Buy comes as the Tories look to give a boost to their campaign for Thursday’s local elections after the MP Neil Parish said he would resign as the MP for Tiverton and Honiton after admitting twice watching pornography in the Commons. 

On Sunday, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng insisted Mr Johnson would ‘absolutely’ remain leader no matter how badly the Tories fared in the council elections.

Pressure was also on Sir Keir Starmer to lead Labour to significant gains when polls in 200 local authorities across Britain.

Research by Survation found Labour has a 13-point advantage in parts of England.

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The 46.9 per cent to 33.7 per cent margin is even bigger than the 41 per cent to 32 per cent recorded the last time the seats were contested.

Meanwhile the picture in Scotland and Wales is similarly bleak in the survey for ITV’s Good Morning Britain, with Labour on course to stretch its lead from what was already a high water mark.

More than 4,000 council seats will be up for grabs in England, including parts of the Red Wall such as Bury, as well as Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and all 32 London boroughs.

It comes as the Tories look to give a boost to their campaign for Thursday's local elections. Research by Survation found Keir Starmer's party has a 13-point advantage in parts of England choosing councillors next Thursday

It comes as the Tories look to give a boost to their campaign for Thursday’s local elections. Research by Survation found Keir Starmer’s party has a 13-point advantage in parts of England choosing councillors next Thursday

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Boris Johnson 'plans to revive Right to Buy scheme to help the young people get on housing ladder'  1

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