Right to Buy extension could erode supply of affordable homes, expert warns

There has been speculation that a range of new announcements could be made to help people on to the property ladder.

08 June 2022

Any extension of the Right to Buy scheme could risk eroding the supply of affordable housing further, according to a housing market expert.

Reports suggest Government officials have been considering how to help young people struggling to get on to the property ladder in England.

There has been speculation that the Right to Buy could be extended for housing association residents and a wave of modular or “flatpack” homes could also be built.

The proposal for renters to be able to purchase their social homes at a discounted price is not new, and the bid to revive the plans has been pitched as being inspired by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher giving council tenants the right to buy in 1980.

But Lawrence Bowles, director of research at Savills, said: “Every iteration and pilot of Right to Buy has failed to replace the number of affordable homes lost.”

He said that if the Right to Buy is extended further, the supply of affordable housing could be eroded.

Mr Bowles said: “This comes at a time when supply is already likely to fall, as housing associations switch their focus from building new homes to making their existing homes safe and more energy efficient.

“If the Government is serious about getting more people into home ownership it could consider extending Help to Buy beyond 2023.

“While the policy hasn’t been perfect, it has helped just shy of 300,000 households on to the housing ladder for the first time.”

According to recent figures from the National House Building Council (NHBC), the number of new homes being registered across the UK jumped by a quarter (25%) in the first three months of this year compared with a year earlier.

Homes are registered with the NHBC before being built so its figures are an indicator of the housing stock in the pipeline. The body has a 70% to 80% share of the UK warranty market.

According to the NHBC, material and labour supply shortages are now being managed by housebuilders as “the new normal”.

The NHBC believes continued investment in skills and training is vital to bring on the next generation of housebuilders.

It said initiatives such as its training hub, which is focused on delivering high quality bricklaying apprenticeships, are starting to make a difference and getting skilled workers trained and on to site.

Inflationary pressures and the strain on household budgets may impact market activity, but continued strong demand will also likely have an impact, the NHBC has suggested.

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