Boris Johnson to announce right to buy extension in bid to win back Tory rebels
The move comes after more than 40 per cent of Tory MPs voted against the PM in the recent confidence vote
Boris Johnson is set to confirm plans to extend the right to buy to housing association tenants as he seeks to repair his fortunes after a Tory revolt against his leadership.
The Prime Minister will use a major speech in Lancashire on Thursday to announce new measures to help lower income individuals onto the property ladder, including allowing housing benefits to secure and pay for mortgages.
The Times, which first reported the intention, said Mr Johnson will argue that the around £30 billion in housing benefit that currently goes towards rent could be better used to help people buy their homes.
But the newspaper said the vision to give millions the ability to buy their social properties at discounts of up to 70% is likely to be limited to a series of pilots for now, without additional Government funding.
Mr Johnson will also commit to detail “reforms to help people cut costs in every area of household expenditure” over the coming weeks as he seeks to ease the impact of soaring prices.
The moves will form part of a plan by the Prime Minister to reassert his authority after surviving Monday’s confidence vote, despite the revolt by 41% of his MPs.
Despite surviving the bid to oust him, Mr Johnson’s authority has been dented by 148 Conservatives saying they have no confidence in his leadership.
“We have the tools we need to get on top of rising prices,” Mr Johnson will say, according to Downing Street’s preview of his speech.
“The global headwinds are strong, but our engines are stronger.
“And, while it’s not going to be quick or easy, you can be confident that things will get better, that we will emerge from this a strong country with a healthy economy.”
Mr Johnson is expected to add: “Over the next few weeks, the Government will be setting out reforms to help people cut costs in every area of household expenditure, from food to energy to childcare to transport and housing.”
He will also promise “to cut the costs that Government imposes on businesses and people up and down the country” despite his prior tax hikes.
On Wednesday, Mr Johnson said the Government will be “expanding home ownership for millions of people” as he vowed to continue in No 10 despite the turmoil.
Downing Street’s press notice issued ahead of the speech contained little detail about the plans, but the PA news agency has been told Mr Johnson will confirm his intention to give tenants of housing association properties the right to buy their homes.
Proposals for renters to be able to buy their social homes at a discount are not new, and appeared in David Cameron’s 2015 Conservative manifesto.
After that pledge failed to materialise, Mr Johnson committed to consider new pilots for the scheme ahead of the 2019 general election.
Encouraging a wave of modular or “flatpack” homes to be built is another new measure being actively considered, but it was unclear whether the Prime Minister will commit to the move in his speech.
Labour former shadow chancellor John McDonnell blamed the housing crisis on the selling off of council houses without ruffianly replacing stock under Margaret Thatcher’s original right to buy scheme.
He told ITV’s Peston: “The selling off of housing association properties is just a political stunt for Boris Johnson, used as cloud cover for the week he’s had.”