The following are extracts from an article that appeared in the Architects’ Journal on 17th July 2015.
The new chairman of Peabody Homes, Bob Kerslake, has not ruled out legal action against the government’s plan to extend the Right to Buy to Housing Association Tenants, which was included in the Queen’s Speech to Parliament on 27th May 2015.
Kerslake is particularly concerned about the financial impact the policy will have on housing associations’ finances and building programmes. He said: ‘This policy has difficulty both in principle and practice – we will see a significant loss of affordable housing which will be very difficult to replace. He added: ‘When Peabody was founded George Peabody put in about half a million pounds to build homes for the poor in London. That’s the equivalent of around a billion pounds now. ‘The point is that [these aren’t] the government’s assets to sell off.’
Kerslake advocated exploring alternatives to the current Right to Buy policy, which offers a cash discount on the market value of homes, and instead allow the government to offer equity loans which would be paid back after an initial five-year interest-free period.
Tom Copley, chair of the housing committee, said: ‘Most people want to be able to own their own home – but as we heard from experts across the board today, there is a risk that this policy might make London’s housing crisis even worse. As the government develops its plans it must ensure it does not penalise councils and housing associations: they are vital in boosting London’s housing supply – especially affordable homes. London has its own affordable housing crisis and should not be used as a cash-cow for funding right-to-buy in other parts of the country.’