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Right to buy: what is scheme to let people buy housing association homes, as Boris Johnson considers proposals

The plans are inspired by Margaret Thatcher’s 1980 policy that allowed families to buy homes from councils

The Prime Minister is understood to be considering plans to give tenants the right to buy their homes that they rent from housing associations, reviving the Right to Buy scheme.

Boris Johnson told officials to draw up the plans in the last fortnight to help young people who are struggling to get on to the property ladder in England, the Telegraph reported.

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His bid to bring back and widen the scheme comes after fresh Tory scandals on top of ‘partygate’ amid the lead up to the local elections which take place on Thursday (5 May).

Here’s a look at what Boris Johnson’s plans are, what the Right to Buy scheme is and when it has been proposed before.

What is the Right to Buy scheme?

The current Right to Buy scheme in England allows council tenants to buy their homes at a discount.

You can apply to buy your council home if:

  • it’s your only or main home
  • it’s self-contained
  • you’re a secure tenant
  • you’ve had a public sector landlord for three years

There are different rules for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

What are Boris Johnson’s plans?

The Prime Minister plans to allow housing association tenants the right to buy their homes in England.

He is proposing for renters to be able to purchase their social homes at a discounted price - to help young people struggling to get on to the property ladder.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Downing Street believes the new version of Right to Buy would help poorer households in so-called ‘red wall’ seats.

Details of the latest proposals were thin, and questions still remain on how housing associations would be compensated and how their stock would be replenished.

The Telegraph suggested a connected idea being considered is for Government spending on housing benefit to be used to help recipients get mortgages.

Is this a new idea?

The proposal for renters to be able to purchase their social homes at a discounted price is not new.

The plan appeared in David Cameron’s 2015 Conservative manifesto.

His government increased the discounts available to council tenants looking to buy their homes to £75,000 and £100,000 in London.

However his plan to widen the scheme to all housing association tenants failed to materialise.

Following the failed plan, Mr Johnson committed to consider new pilots for the scheme ahead of the 2019 general election.

His bid to revive the plans were said to be inspired by Margaret Thatcher giving council tenants the right to buy in 1980.

It was seen as one of her flagship policies, transforming the lives of former council tenants, and was key in building her popularity among working class supporters.

Why is Boris Johnson considering these plans?

Mr Johnson’s attempt to relaunch Right to Buy comes following fresh Tory scandals in the lead up to Thursday’s local elections.

The Tories are looking to give a boost to their campaign following the resignation of Neil Parish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton, who was outed as the parliamentarian who admitted watching pornography twice in the House of Commons.

On Sunday (1 May), Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng insisted Mr Johnson would “absolutely” remain leader no matter how badly the Tories fared in the council elections.

What are the current election polls?

Pressure is on for Sir Keir Starmer to lead Labour to significant gains when polls in 200 local authorities across Britain open on Thursday.

Research by Survation found Labour has a 13-point advantage in parts of England.

The 46.9% to 33.7% margin is bigger than the 41% to 32% recorded last time the seats were contested.

More than 4,000 council seats will be up for grabs in England, including parts of the Red Wall such as Bury, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and all 32 London boroughs.