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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Boris lobbying government to change Right To Buy

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.

  • Neil Briggs

    He's right!

  • Rob  Davies

    Never, ever thought I'd say this, but I agree with Boris. Right, I'm off to have a thorough wash!

    Of course, the whole idea should be scrapped completely because it's so utterly ludicrous. But if that's not going to happen, BoJo's idea is slightly more palatable.

  • Karl Knipe

    Sounds a much more sensible plan. The way the government wants to do it will just cause more questions than answers, and it will do nothing to ease the housing shortage. The Mayor's way isn't ideal, but it's a lot better.

  • Peter Hendry

    Here's a new proposal, designed to provide more affordable housing in the London basin than can ever have been imagined AND provide a completely new state of the art airport for London.

    Build a new bespoke one on the London Estuary with a fast road and rail link to and from the capital?

    Then, and this is the really clever bit, recycle Heathrow entirely by building hundreds of new houses and estates using the existing runways and feeders without needing to lay foundations.

    The construction costs would be super economical and the build time very short. High housing demand would take care of sales and lettings. Innovative designs and varieties of house-sizes could also be incorporated. Top soil could be added above existing concrete apron level.

    Some of the cost of building the new London Estuary airport could be financed from the massive construction savings made at the former Heathrow airport site.

    Zac Goldsmith and Boris Johnson please take note.
    Added: Friday 11th December, 2015

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