A new pilot scheme will see housing association tenants in the Midlands given the right to buy their homes, in a scheme costing £200m.

The plan includes a pledge to replace each sold home with a new affordable home.


At present, council house tenants can buy their home at a price significantly lower than the market rate. Under the new plans, housing association tenants in 70 local authority areas will be given the same right.

It follows soon after the scrapping of a 2015 plan to force the sale of council homes in locations with high-value properties. Councils strongly opposed the move.

That scheme was meant to provide the funds for a nationwide roll-out of right to buy for those in housing association properties. How that scheme will be funded is now unclear.


The opposition criticised the new proposal, arguing that public money would now be used to sell off affordable housing at a discount, when it should used for building new homes.

John Healey, the shadow housing secretary, said: “Right to buy has decimated our council housing stock in this country. By expanding this policy, the Tories are only going to make the housing crisis worse.”

£200m of Treasury money will be used to fund the new Midland pilot scheme, a sum already set aside from the 2017 budget. After the scheme launches, tenants have one month to make an application.


The housing secretary, James Brokenshire, said: “This government is committed to providing opportunities for people to get a foot on the property ladder and to have a place they can call their own,” he said.

“Our £200m investment into the Midlands voluntary right-to-buy pilot is the first step in helping housing association tenants realise their dream of homeownership.”


The scheme was developed in partnership with the National Housing Federation, which emphasised the importance of the homes being replaced.


NHF chief executive David Orr said: “It will be a success for everyone involved only if every home that is sold is replaced with a new affordable home, and if the application process is as smooth as possible for tenants.

“This scheme must empower social housing tenants and meet our own ambitions to deliver the homes the country needs.”


There are worries in some quarters that the homes will not be replaced - or that they will not be replaced in a like-for-like fashion.

David Pipe, policy and practice officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “Our concern is that even if this is achieved, the replacements won’t necessarily be like for like.

“We may see social rented homes being sold and replaced with homes that are let at higher rents, or we could see homes being sold in one area and replacements built somewhere else. So there remains a real danger that some areas will still lose much-needed social housing as a result of the pilot.”


Instead of the first come, first served allocation method used in previous right to buy schemes, the new pilot will involve a ballot in order to cope with the expected high demand.