Liberal Democrats call on MPs to reject Right to Buy for Housing Associations

Lib Dems are opposing the government decision to allow the tenants of Housing Associations the right to buy the homes they rent so the Mid Suffolk group are putting the following to the council

Motion to Mid Suffolk district council  “This council supports the housing charity “Shelter” in its campaign to persuade the Tory government that its plan to introduce the right to buy to housing association properties is ill conceived. The council therefore resolves to lobby all Suffolk MPs and government ministers to reject this policy as the council is concerned at the loss of such social housing for future generations”

This council has one of its strategic priorities, housing, to ensure there is enough good quality, environmentally efficient homes, with appropriate tenures in the right location.

To have a policy of extending the right to buy to housing associations will not improve the housing crisis it will exacerbate it.

Even the National Housing Federation chief executive has publicly stated “this will have a serious and long lasting consequence for future generations. It will not solve the housing crisis :  it will make it worse”

“We have a number of issues with the proposal,” says Penny Otton. “I know the right to acquire already exists in some areas, but the discounts are relatively small. Do we want to again get families into mortgage arrears they are unable to afford?

Our housing tenants voted to keep Mid Suffolk as their landlord which shows how well the council is thought of as a social housing provider.

This policy appears to be totally at odds with the government’s aim to build more affordable homes to rent or buy. Something which we absolutely agree needs to happen.

The great charitable housing associations grew from a philanthropic movement which provided the impetus for the modern housing association movement we have today.

Tony Stacey, chair of a group of 100 housing associations has said “we must continue with the aim to help end the housing crisis; right to buy will inhibit this.”

Even the Tory press has carried articles expressing numerous reasons why this is a bad idea. The overriding issue being that these are charitable assets and are not the government’s to dispose of.

Kris Hopkins, a former Tory housing minister now a communities Minister, in 2013 warned that this policy had the potential to incur a high liability for the public purse. The financial implications have not been considered.

I hesitate to mention the House of Lords at this time, but just in the last few days they have voted to amend the Charities bill which will seek to prevent charities being compelled to do something which is not in their best interests.  They have done this knowing the concerns already expressed by housing associations.

This fully demonstrates that the government has not thought this through and I believe will be threatened with a legal challenge.

As most of you will know this council has given, quite rightly, its own land at nil cost to housing associations to build the homes we need for our residents; that is using your money and that of your electorate.

High profile landowners such Michael Eavis founder of Glastonbury donated several acres to allow a housing association to build 22 affordable homes. I know of a local landowner in my own village who did the same.

How will you be able to persuade others to do the same if they know the properties can be sold off?

We have all seen the result of the right to buy with the slowly decreasing number of social homes to rent. Will you still be inclined to donate council land when these too in a few years will be on the open market!!!

Please work to persuade the MPs in Suffolk that this is an ill-conceived policy which will not improve the housing crisis but make it worse.

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