Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new plans for a Right to Buy scheme in Blackpool today ( 9 June).
Addressing a crowd, the PM explained the “benefits to bricks” scheme would help lower-paid renters who live in a housing association buy their homes.
Johnson, who narrowly won a vote of no confidence on 7June, is hoping the new plans will help ease growing concerns about the cost-of-living crisis, as well as give legitimacy to his leadership.
Covering a variety of topics in the speech, he reassured voters that the economy will get better, but warned it would not be “quick or easy.”
Here’s everything you need to know about Johnson’s Right to Buy scheme and how it may be able to help you buy your council house.
What is the Right to Buy scheme?
The proposed scheme, which has been dubbed “benefits to bricks” aims to help low-paid workers who live in housing associations to get onto the property ladder.
Johnson is expected to announce that it will allow those receiving housing benefits to access mortgages and give those in housing associations the right to buy their home.
According to the Times, Johnson will put forward the argument that the £30 billion currently spent on rent, would be better spent on helping people secure a mortgage.
The Times went on to say that the proposed scheme, which will allow people to buy their homes with discounts of up to 70%, will likely be rolled out in limited pilots.
How many council houses are there?
Statistics from the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) found that in 2021 there were 4.4 million social housing or housing authority homes in England.
Private registered providers own the bulk of social housing at 2.8 million units, with local authorities owning just 1.6 million.
According to housing charity Shelter, there are now 1.4 million fewer social homes in England than there were in 1980.
The charity states that since 1991, there has been a yearly loss of an average of 24,000 social houses a year and that house prices in England are now eight times higher than the average salary.
How can I buy my council house?
There is already a Right to Buy scheme available in England which allows anyone in a council home to buy it at a discounted price.
To be eligible for the current scheme:
- The house must be your only or main home
- It must be self-contained
- You are a secure tenant
- You’ve had a public sector landlord (for example, a council, housing association or NHS trust) for 3 years
Rules to buy your council house are different for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
You can check if you are eligible through the government’s Own Your Home website.
What has Boris Johnson said?
Johnson stated that the government policy “will help millions realise the dream of home ownership”.
The PM’s plan to extend the scheme to those who rent from housing associations will be met“within existing spending plans”.
He reassured that there will be a “one for one replacement of each home” sold and that those receiving Universal Credit would be given the option to put their rent towards a mortgage.
Johnson also said that the government will look into Universal Credit eligibility rules, which currently mean anyone with a Lifetime ISA or Help to Buy ISA are ineligible.
What has Labour said?
Shadow minister Jess Phillips took to Twitter to question how the scheme would work, when to access Universal Credit you cannot have savings, which are needed for a house deposit.
Phillips said: “If you have more than 16k in savings you don’t qualify for universal credit. Just fyi. Just a small detail.”
She added: “The point is how can you save for a house deposit to buy a house using your benefits if the more you save (over 6k) the less benefits you have. Just a comment on the new policy announcement.”
“It’s almost as if Boris Johnson doesn’t do much benefits casework.”
According to Statista, the average cost for a house deposit in the UK was £53,935.
There are also growing concerns that the UK is heading towards a housing crash, as interest rates soar and the cost-of-living crisis hits homes across the country.
What was Margaret Thatcher’s right to buy scheme?
Former prime minister Margaret Thatcher unveiled her Right to Buy Scheme in 1980.
The first of its kind, it allowed people in council houses to buy their homes and get onto the property ladder.
Between 1980 and 2021, 1.8 million people bought their council house using a right to buy scheme.
However, there has been criticism that the scheme helped fuel the housing crisis, as once these homes were privately purchased, additional social housing was not created to fill in the gaps.