David Cameron’s controversial plan to sell off housing association properties to tenants at a discount has today come under fire from an influential group of MPs for huge gaps in the detail.
The public accounts committee, chaired by Labour’s Meg Hillier, has several concerns over the Right to Buy scheme, criticising a lack of detail, concerns that it may worsen the housing crisis and that the scheme may be open to abuse.
The report condemns the Government for only providing “vague assurances” about the costings of the scheme and the impact the legislation would have.
Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, condemned the Conservatives for their lack of planning, saying “the approach to paying for this policy seems to be entirely speculative. On the basis of evidence heard by our committee, there are no costings or workings out. We are not talking about a ‘back of an envelope’ calculation – there is no envelope at all.”
Right to Buy gives housing association tenants the opportunity to buy their house at a discount, the cost of which will be met by selling of high-value council housing according to the Government.
The Government claims there would be one-for-one replacement of social housing as current ones are sold off, but the committee says concerns remain about whether these will be genuine replacements rather than more expensive homes that do not meet people’s needs.
Labour has been consistently critical of the policy, saying it will cause the loss of thousands of affordable homes. Government data has shown that instead of one-for-one replacement, only one in eight social homes is being built.
John Healey, shadow Housing Secretary, has called for the Government to halt it Right to Buy scheme, describing it as “chaos”.
“The PAC rightly challenges the value-for-money of government decisions. They say that ministers have made no proper assessment of the impact of these plans, and cannot even show that their sums add up.
“Parliament should not be asked to accept this part of the Housing and Planning Bill, without MPs and peers knowing what they are voting for. Ministers must now pause this part of the legislation until they are able to give Parliament some answers.”