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House of Lords written question – answered on 14th December 2011.

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Photo of Lord Stoddart of Swindon Lord Stoddart of Swindon Independent Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that social housing units are sold on a leasehold basis.

To ask Her Majesty's Government what were the principal reasons for the decision to increase to 50 per cent the discount for tenants of council or other social housing buying their properties; and what assessment they have made of the impact of this on people waiting to qualify for such housing or who are unable to afford properties in the private market.

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that social and council housing is not sold at a loss.

Photo of Baroness Hanham Baroness Hanham The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

The Government want to reinvigorate the right-to-buy scheme to give a new generation of tenants the opportunity of home ownership. We have announced our intention to increase the average discount a tenant receives under the right to buy to up to half the value of their home. Receipts will be used to pay off debt on the properties sold and for every additional home bought under right to buy, a new home will be built for affordable rent-over and above existing plans.

We will be publishing a consultation paper shortly seeking views on our proposals and an impact assessment detailing the impact of the proposed changes.

The right-to-buy scheme includes a cost floor provision which gives protection against losses on the sale of homes by ensuring that the discount does not reduce the sale price of the property below the costs the landlord has incurred in building and improving the property over a specified period.

Right-to-buy legislation also provides that homes are sold on the basis on which they are owned by the landlord. There are no plans to change this provision or require that social housing units are always sold on a leasehold basis.

The Government permit the voluntary disposal of council housing at less than market value, but only where this is of benefit to the community. The Government have just concluded a consultation in which they sought views on extending such freedoms in the local authority sector. We hope to publish our response to the views expressed in the new year.

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