Shapps denies Right to Buy policy is under review

By David Hickey Monday, 20 September 2010

The housing minister has emphatically denied that the coalition Government is reviewing the Right to Buy scheme for social housing tenants.

"There is no such review. It was a made-up story," Grant Shapps said of a story in the Guardian last week that suggested the review was being carried out to appease Liberal Democrat party backbenchers.

Shapps was speaking yesterday at a fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrats party conference, the first Tory minister ever to do so.

Liberal Democrat councillor Richard Kemp, leader of the Local Government Association’s Liberal Democrat group, said at the same event in Liverpool that such a review would be "irrelevant" because less than 4,000 homes last year were subject to Right to Buy.

"Almost all those left in social housing cannot buy their own house," Kemp said.

Shapps said that the previous "top-down system of targets" imposed through the former Labour government’s regional spatial strategies was the "worst way" at increasing housing supply.

He said that the New Homes Bonus that the coalition is planning to introduce would provide "very, very powerful incentives" to councils to create new homes.

Under the scheme, the Government would match the council tax raised on each new house for six years.
Shapps did not rule out raising the incentive if the initiative failed to increase supply.

"Ultimately the argument would be you increase the carrot," Shapps said.

Shapps has said that the incentive would be introduced "early" in the next spending review period, which will run from 2011 to 2014. Funding for the scheme will come from existing local authority grants.

At the same event, Kemp announced that the Liberal Democrat group at the Local Government Association and the Liberal Democrats’ Department of Communities and Local Government backbench committee, led by deputy leader Simon Hughes, would launched a review of housing policy to ensure it is "fit for purpose".

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