Response - Homebuy: Expanding the Opportunity to Buy

By: Catherine Grannum  Published: June 2005


Shelter believes that the current government drive towards spreading the boundaries of home ownership (of which these proposals form part) is questionable.

Summary

Shelter believes that everyone should be able to live in a home which is affordable, secure, decent, and within a socially mixed neighbourhood where people feel safe, can work and fulfil their potential. This should be achievable across all housing tenures. We believe that the current government drive towards spreading the boundaries of home ownership (of which these proposals form part) is questionable; it risks further marginalisation of those households who have no realistic prospect of becoming homeowners, and further stigmatising of renting as a tenure of choice, whether in the social or private sectors. Any programme of low cost home ownership should fulfil the following objectives:

  • It should not reduce the stock of available social rented housing.
  • It should represent value for money in terms of public expenditure, taking into account a wide range of costs and benefits, both economic and social.
  • It should safeguard the needs of those in society who have little prospect of ever being able to afford home ownership, and avoid further residualising and stigmatising of the social rented sector.
  • It should allow the growth and maintenance of mixed communities in terms of income and tenure.
  • It should be secure against fraud and exploitation.
  • It should avoid encouraging into home ownership those who cannot really afford the costs.

We recognise the ways in which the Homebuy proposals are an improvement to the Right to Buy, in terms of aiming to meet objectives on increasing supply. Our response will go on to discuss the ways in which we think these objectives as a whole are met, or not, by the proposals in the consultation paper. We are pleased to see that the Government has resisted pressure to extend the Right to Buy to tenants of Housing Associations; this would have had undesirable consequences for individual Housing Associations, as well as for the 100,000 homeless households in temporary accommodation and the over 1 million people on housing waiting lists throughout England. It is in this context of acute housing shortage and unmet need that we have to view these proposals.

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