The Financial Times says London Mayor and new Conservative MP Boris Johnson is lobbying the government in a bid to persuade it to turn its plan to extend Right To Buy into a scheme more akin to Help To Buy.
Johnson - who is also at loggerheads with some members of the government over his opposition to the independent report advocating an extension of Heathrow airport - says the Tory plan to offer Right To Buy sales discounts to housing association tenants should instead become an equity loan scheme similar to Help To Buy.
The FT says Johnson and the Greater London Authority, the capital’s governing body, believe equity loans would remove the need to sell high-value council houses and would also allow the Treasury to fund the scheme without it appearing on the public sector balance sheet — in the same way as Help To Buy equity loans — and so ensure that housing associations were fully recompensed.
The Conservatives say up to 1.3m housing association tenants could buy their homes at a discount under the party’s proposals, which were a flagship idea at the May election.
Currently some 800,000 housing association tenants have a "right to acquire" homes under smaller discounts, but the government says it will significantly boost those discounts and extend the scheme to those who currently have no purchase rights at all, estimated to be about 500,000 people.
If the discounts match those given to council tenants, the sums involved would be considerable: the maximum discount is £77,900 across England, except in London boroughs, where it is £103,900.
The Conservatives say every house purchased will be replaced "on a one-for-one basis" with more affordable homes and no-one will be forced to leave their home - although the Tory manifesto before the May 7 poll pledged only to build a maximum of 400,000 new homes during the term of the new government.
Since Margaret Thatcher introduced Right To Buy for council properties in 1980, just over two million council homes have been sold; around 345,000 replacements have been built.