Cameron’s extension of Right to Buy is ‘fantasy’
Labour’s Frank Field explains why the proposed extension of the Right to Buy scheme in today’s Conservative manifesto is ‘unworkable’.
David Cameron is scrabbling around trying to find himself and the Tories a vote-winning policy. It is a sign of his desperation that today he has announced a policy which many governments have looked at but none have ever adopted – to extend the Right to Buy scheme to housing associations.
You may remember I was at the fore in calls within the Labour Party to support Right to Buy back in the 70s and 80s. And like the rest of the Labour Party today, I support the Right to Buy now. Labour is, and always should be, the party that supports working people being able to own their own home. So of course we should back new rights for tenants to buy their homes.
But I cannot support this half-baked idea.
There are no guarantees the scheme will raise the income the Tories propose and no guarantees the social housing lost will be replaced.
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They claim that they will pay for this scheme with £4.5 billion raised from selling expensive council homes.
But the experts are unanimous is saying these numbers don’t stack up.
This policy is a straight-forward Con trick. You can’t pay for Right to Buy with a bounced cheque you don't even have.
This unworkable policy is going to lead to far fewer homes for working people, not more.
And it is from the same Conservative Party that has presided over the lowest level of affordable housing for working people for 20 years, seen home ownership plummet to the lowest levels on record and seen the average number of families claiming their Right to Buy each year fall by two thirds.
There is a simple reason why no Government has introduced extending this policy to housing associations. It can only work by borrowing nearly £6 billion to pay people who are already some of the best housed families in the country.
I vigorously support the aspiration for working people to own their own home.
But to help working people own their own home we need a proper plan to build more houses, not fantasy proposals from a party that has let them down.