The Government is to amend its Housing Bill to provide a “binding legal guarantee” that two new affordable homes will be built for each council house sold to fund an expansion of the Right to Buy scheme.
Housing Associations have agreed to extend RTB to their tenants with government funding for the scheme partially coming from the sale of vacant high value council homes.
Opposition politicians and housing experts have expressed concern that the policy will add to the capital’s housing crisis which has left tens of thousands of Londoners stranded on council waiting lists and is forcing private sector tenants to pay ever increasing rents as demand outstrips supply.
Today Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the government will table an amendment to its own bill, ensuring that two new affordable homes will be built to replace those sold off.
Cameron credited lobbying by Richmond MP and Tory Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith for the change.
In November Mr Goldsmith said the Bill needed amending to “guarantee it works for Londoners”.
Speaking at the time, he said: “London council homes are far more valuable than elsewhere and without a change we are going to see a disproportionate flow of resources out of London.”
Mr Cameron has also announced that the government will double the amount of cash it lends to Londoners under Help to Buy to 40% of the price of a new home, a move it’s claimed will help 10,000 households onto the property ladder.
An estimated 50,000 are expected to benefit from an expansion of “Shared Ownership in London” which lets households part rent and part buy their home.
Announcing the measures, which are said to be worth £2.5 billion, Mr Cameron said: “I know that Zac Goldsmith has placed tackling London’s housing problem at the heart of his campaign and I look forward to working with him to deliver this policy.”
Mr Goldsmith commented: “Lack of affordable homes is the number one issue for London, but we have the tools to solve it. We have the land, the finance and the Government is showing loud and clear that it has the political will.”
With recent polls showing Goldsmith trailing Labour’s Sadiq Khan in the mayoral race, his campaign will be hoping today’s announcement helps establish him as the candidate with the relationships needed to deliver for the capital and its residents.