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Voluntary Right to Buy Pilot Scheme

Volume 651: debated on Monday 10 December 2018

The midlands pilot was launched on 16 August, with over 9,000 house- holds registering for the ballot. Successful tenants are now applying to their housing association to buy their home. Our £200 million investment in the pilot will help thousands of housing association tenants to realise the dream of home ownership.

I realise this is a pilot, but if the Government do not know how many properties are available for sale and how many of the Mayor’s 6,000 lottery winners will actually be able to buy their own home, how is this the best use of scarce resources— £200 million—in the part of the country with the worst homelessness problem outside London and the south-east?

The whole purpose of a pilot is to answer the questions that the hon. Gentleman quite rightly raises. As for whether this is the best use of resources, I think that 9,146 housing association tenants in the area might agree it is, given that they applied for the funding. He is quite right that 6,000 were successful in the ballot, and we expect a smaller number than that to proceed to take advantage of buying their own home. Following the completion of the pilot, we will assess and answer those questions about where we go next.

My constituent Joanne Betts of Cawston in Rugby was very disappointed not to be successful in the ballot. When does the Minister think she may have an opportunity to buy her home? She has of course contributed a large proportion of its cost through the rent she has paid over many years.

My hon. Friend is quite right to raise the disappointment of his constituent. I am sorry that there were winners and losers in the ballot, but it was laid out early on in the pilot that the £200 million was capable of funding only a certain number of sales. We reckon that will be less than 6,000; we over-programmed it because not everybody will be able to proceed. Once the pilot is completed, and we can assess the results and the demand, we will be able to take a view on where we go next.

Will the Minister clarify the Government’s position in relation to the right to buy in the voluntary sector? As he knows, the voluntary sector is under a lot of pressure.

As the hon. Gentleman will understand, the pilot is a voluntary pilot. We agreed with the National Housing Federation that the midlands was a good place to do it to assess, from both the housing association sector and the Government side, how we can best effect and fulfil the aspiration of the majority of housing association tenants who want to own—from a financial point of view but also from an effectiveness point of view. We want the pilot to bed in, to see how it performs over the next couple of years and then to reach some conclusions after that.