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The ARCH annual report for 2015-16 is now available to view.

 

Download it here.

Serious questions still to be answered on extending Right to Buy 29/04/2016

The influential Public Accounts Committee published a report today (Friday 29 April) and has raised significant concerns about the extension of the government's Right to Buy policy.

 

The Parliamentary Committee took the unusual step of hearing evidence on the policy prior to implementation, stating in its Report that it was mindful of "both the potential impacts of the policy on a large number of individuals, and the significant amount of public money likely to be involved".

 

The Committee concludes that the DCLG: "has presented Parliament with little information on the potential impacts of the legislation required"and that it is "not clear how this policy will be funded in practice, or what its financial impacts might be".

 

In its recommendations to the government, the Committee calls on DCLG to publish a full impact assessment of the policy in line with established Treasury guidance. By the time of this year's Autumn Statement, it should publish:

 

"a full analysis showing how this policy is to be funded, provide a clear statement of where financial and other risks lie, and spell out its contingency plan if its policies prove not to be fiscally neutral".

 

The Report also says DCLG should also publish detailed data on replacement homes and address concerns around fraud including "setting out its plans for tackling fraud and abuse to protect public money".

 

The Report Summary says: 

"The policy of extending Right to Buy discounts to tenants of housing associations, funded by the sale of high-value council housing, has potentially significant impacts for both local authorities and tenants of social housing, especially in areas where house prices are high. Despite the implications and complexity of this policy, the Department has not published a detailed impact assessment to inform Parliament's consideration of its legislative proposals. Many key policy details have not been clarified, with the Department offering only vague assurances as to how this policy will be funded, without producing any figures to demonstrate that additional funding from central or local government will not be required. Other concerns remain, including the extent to which the new homes funded by this policy will be genuine replacements for those sold, and whether there will be sufficient controls to prevent abuse of the scheme given the significant discounts proposed for housing association tenants wishing to buy.

 

The policy of extending Right to Buy discounts to tenants of housing associations, funded by the sale of high-value council housing, has potentially significant impacts for both local authorities and tenants of social housing, especially in areas where house prices are high. Despite the implications and complexity of this policy, the Department has not published a detailed impact assessment to inform Parliament's consideration of its legislative proposals. Many key policy details have not been clarified, with the Department offering only vague assurances as to how this policy will be funded, without producing any figures to demonstrate that additional funding from central or local government will not be required. Other concerns remain, including the extent to which the new homes funded by this policy will be genuine replacements for those sold, and whether there will be sufficient controls to prevent abuse of the scheme given the significant discounts proposed for housing association tenants wishing to buy."

 

ARCH Chief Executive, John Bibby, welcomed the report saying:

 

"The Public Accounts Committee findings are no real surprise. They echo many of the concerns raised by stock retained councils who still have no idea how much they will be expected to pay over to the government to fund this policy or how many so called high value council homes will have to be sold to pay the government's Right to Buy levy".

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