Right to Buy (Housing Associations)

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 29 June 2015.

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Photo of John Healey John Healey Labour, Wentworth and Dearne 2:30, 29 June 2015

What estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of introducing a right to buy for housing association tenants.

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

The details will be set out in the impact assessment when the housing Bill is published, but it is all about ensuring that we support people who aspire to own their own home and extend home ownership to as wide a group of people who wish to have it as possible, and on equal terms to those who have had it for so many years.

Photo of John Healey John Healey Labour, Wentworth and Dearne

What a load of waffle. It is quite clear that the Minister has made no assessment at all of the costs of the policy. When he produces the impact assessment before the Bill is published and brought before the House, will he ensure that it shows that taxpayers will pay three times over: first, for the investment to build the homes; secondly, for the discount to sell them; and, thirdly, for the higher housing benefit bills that will result?

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

I appreciate that the right hon. Gentleman feels strongly about this, no doubt against the background of his interests in the housing association he is involved with.

I gently point out to the right hon. Gentleman that he has made it very clear where the Labour party stands on the issue. Lord Prescott himself made it clear that he did not know what aspiration was. I suspect, from what the right hon. Gentleman has said, that he probably still harks back to his statement to the Fabian Society, in which he spoke about the drop in home ownership since 2012 being no bad thing. We think that it is, and we want to support people who want to own their own home. I am disappointed that he does not support aspiration.

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies Conservative, Eastleigh

Does my hon. Friend agree that constructing a local plan where one did not exist in areas such as my constituency of Eastleigh is of paramount importance in delivering home ownership while protecting green spaces and in committing to the strongest sanctions on councils that fail to do this properly by embracing localism and providing locally based community planning?

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

All housing association tenants will share my view, and my hon. Friend’s, that the best way for communities to have their say is to have a local plan and, even better, neighbourhood plans. I encourage her authority to listen to her and get on with putting its local plan in place.