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Future Housing Review has written an open letter to Gavin Barwell MP, urging a public consultation before roll-out of VRTB.

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Housing White Paper says that Right to Buy will apply to homes built by Council-owned companies.
How helpful is that?

Why do the politicians refuse a formal consultation on the Right to Buy extension?

Why is there no news on the never-ending pilots?

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Open letter to the Minister of State for Housing and Planning

Please reply to nigelturner@futurehousing.org Gavin Barwell MP

Gavin Barwell MP
Minister of State for Housing and Planning
Department for Communities and Local Government
Fry Building
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

2nd December 2016

Dear Mr Barwell,

This open letter seeks to encourage a full and transparent debate as to issues that have arisen concerning the Voluntary Right to Buy scheme.

In the National Housing Federation Code of Governance (2015) it is a requirement of effective governance that a Housing Association Board should make decisions based on ‘timely and accurate information’. Since the introduction of the Voluntary Right to Buy agreement in November 2015, the Federation has consulted with its members on the policy, but has not yet published any detailed guidelines. Furthermore, the Government has not yet published a financial impact assessment for the proposed scheme. Without these two fundamental elements in place, a Housing Association Board does not have timely and accurate information on which to base its own policy as to the Voluntary Right to Buy scheme.

We are therefore of the opinion that neither the Government nor the Federation should expect a Housing Association Board to make any policy decision on the Voluntary Right to Buy scheme until such time as timely and accurate information is to hand.

For the foreseeable future, it seems that the national roll-out originally proposed for the scheme has been replaced by a large-scale regional roll-out, which will cost the public sector around £250m. Restricting implementation to one region means that the scheme will not be available to all housing association tenants in England, notwithstanding that universality of the right to buy was a key element of the agreement reached between Government and the Federation in 2015.

We are therefore of the opinion that the Board of any Housing Association invited to take part in the regional roll-out of the Voluntary Right to Buy scheme should defer acceptance until such time that it has timely and accurate information on which to base its decision.

Over the years, successive governments have consulted publicly on the Statutory Right to Buy scheme. There has been no such consultation in respect of the Voluntary Right to Buy scheme. We urge the Government to publish an impact assessment and the Federation to publish detailed scheme guidelines as soon as practicable. This would allow a public consultation to take place before the regional roll-out.

In the interests of fairness and transparency, we are of the opinion that a public consultation is necessary before large-scale regional implementation of the Voluntary Right to Buy scheme.

We have reservations that the Voluntary Right to Buy policy is being implemented at all against the backdrop of financial austerity and an acute housing crisis. Nevertheless, we hope that you will feel able to endorse the opinions set out above and look forward to a response as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Nigel Turner
Director – Future Housing Review

Sue Southwell
Rural Housing Enabler – Devon Rural Housing Partnership

Sarah Brooke-Taylor
Rural Housing Enabler – Warwickshire Rural Community Council

Mark Jackson
Chief Executive – Lambeth and Southwark Housing Association

Graham Howarth
Director – Westfield Housing Association

Tom Murtha
Founding member – SHOUT (Social Housing Under Threat)

David Cowan
Professor of Law and Policy – Bristol University

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