RIGHT TO BUY
Government proposals to extend the right to buy to 1.3 million housing association tenants have been met with widespread concern by rural affordable housing providers.
Although “the Good Life” housing policy was launched under the banner of helping families achieve their dreams and aspirations, in rural communities campaigners predict it will have a devastating impact.
In Hampshire, the extension of the right to buy to housing associations risks depleting the current stock of rural affordable homes as proposed discounts of up to £100,000 could see residents rush to purchase their homes.
It has been suggested that discounts paid on homes sold under the right to buy will be funded from the sale of high value council homes. In spite of a poor rebuild record on right to buy sales completed to date the Government has argued that homes sold under the extended scheme will be replaced.
The Hampshire Alliance for Rural Affordable Housing (known as HARAH) develops rural affordable homes protected “in perpetuity” to meet local needs. HARAH is warning that extending the right to buy to rural housing association properties will prevent parishes from giving support to new schemes as they would not be protected into the future as affordable homes for local people.
Commenting on the policy, Liz Willis, HARAH’s Strategic Housing Officer explains:
“It is natural that rural housing association residents will be interested in a housing association right to buy scheme. The difficulty arises in that these homes have been provided as rented accommodation for people with a local connection. When a right to buy property is resold it is no longer guaranteed to be for rural residents who need it.
Within HARAH we know that the single most important assurance that rural parishes seek when supporting affordable homes is that they will remain prioritised for people with a local connection.”
Councillor Sandra Hawke, Chairman of HARAH adds:
“Where will rural families in need go if we can no longer create affordable homes in our villages?
Rural communities need to be exempted from these proposals. Extending the right to buy will only see the supply of rural affordable homes dry up – crushing the hopes of ordinary rural families who just want to be able to afford somewhere to live where their roots are.”