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Government steps up efforts to sell-off social housing stock

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Government steps up efforts to sell-off social housing stock

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Housing

Government steps up efforts to sell-off social housing stock Government steps up efforts to sell-off social housing stock

The government is to offer more incentives to help social housing tenants take up the right to buy in 2014, communities secretary Eric Pickles has announced.

The maximum discount for a house will increase from 60% to 70% of its value, and the £75,000 cap will start increasing in line with the consumer price index rate of inflation. A £100 million fund will improve access to mortgage finance, and new right to buy agents will guide people through the buying process.

The government says revenue from additional sales will be ploughed back into delivering new affordable homes for rent but not social housing.

Mr Pickles said the changes showed the government’s "rock solid support for aspiration", and would ensure Right to Buy becomes realistic for thousands of social tenants across the country.

Since 2011 the government has helped almost 50,000 households onto the housing ladder - over 13,400 social tenants through the right to buy and over 36,000 through help to buy and earlier schemes.

Mr Pickles said it was "clear evidence that wherever people are in the housing market, there is help on hand for hard-working, aspiring homeowners".

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: "For years the right to buy was slowly strangled, with a miserly cap on discounts killing the prospect of home ownership for most social tenants.

"We don’t think governments should be in the business of vetoing aspiration. That’s why we reinvigorated the right to buy. It’s all part of our long-term economic plan to make Britain a country on the rise, where hard working people can be rewarded with the security and peace of mind that comes from owning their own home.

"Eighteen months later and with over 13,400 hard-working tenants taking up the offer, it’s clear the public shares our view. But we want to go further, that’s why we will soon be increasing the maximum percentage discount for houses, and ensuring that the cash cap rises with inflation, so more social tenants can make right to buy their New Year’s resolution for 2014.

"We’ll also continue to plough the cash from additional sales back into delivering new affordable homes for rent, which will help drive up the rate of housebuilding across the country."

Responding to the government's announcement, Cllr Mike Jones, chairman of the Local Government Association's environment and housing Board, said: "Increasing the number of tenants taking up the right to buy can help those wanting to join the housing ladder. However, the centralised way it is being implemented means that the Government has missed an opportunity to make sure it delivers the investment needed.

"The demand for affordable housing continues to rise strongly and it is therefore crucial that the right to buy scheme is structured in a way that delivers good value for money and supports housing growth.

"A centralised right to buy cap fails to take into account local housing demand and the cost of building new homes.

"As the level of discount may not leave enough funds to build a replacement home, some areas in need of more affordable homes may actually be left with fewer.

"It is also crucial that where receipts are generated they are ploughed back into affordable housing as quickly as possible. Councils should be able to keep 100% of the receipt if they agree to use if for a replacement dwelling."

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