Communities secretary Greg Clark has defended plans to extend the Right to Buy to apply to housing association tenants, saying it would rectify a ‘30-year injustice’
Clark was speaking during a heated debate in the House of Commons as the government’s Housing and Planning Bill passed its second reading with a majority of 91.
The secretary of state praised the government for securing an agreement with housing associations that would ensure a new home would be built for every one sold off ‘on at least a one-for-one basis’.
According to the AJ’s sister title Construction News, Clark also defended moves to ease planning obligations for affordable housing.
Under the bill, councils would have to provide starter homes for first-time buyers, but not homes for affordable rent.
The bill also seeks to speed up the adoption of neighbourhood plans, with the government intervening in cases where councils fail to bring forward proposals.
In response, shadow housing minister John Healey sought to deny the bill a second reading on the basis it would not help people struggling to buy a home.
He said the Right to Buy extension would see housing associations become ‘almost indistinguishable from private developers’ and, in some cases, lose sight of their “social mission”.
Healey also raised concerns that there would be insufficient funding for like-for-like replacement as housing is sold off.
He said it was ‘a regret’ that the last Labour government did not have sufficient funds to replace council homes sold off under the Right to Buy, adding this was a “big flaw” in the policy.
Tory mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith also expressed concern about the Right to Buy extension and warned that London could lose out as a result of the policy.
Goldsmith, along with several other Conservative London MPs including mayor Boris Johnson, tabled an amendment that would see two affordable homes provided for every high-value council property sold within Greater London.
This could be done by reducing the amount of money paid to the Department for Communities and Local Government from the sale of the high-value properties, according to the amendment.