Boris Johnson is set to announce plans to allow low-income families to use housing benefits to secure and pay mortgages — but critics have already seized on the plan’s flaws.
In a revamped version of the flagship conservative “right to buy” policy, The Times and The Sun reported that Johnson will argue that some £30bn of housing benefit currently going towards rent could be better used to help tenants help housing associations to buy their homes .
But the paper said the vision of giving millions the ability to buy their social properties at discounts of up to 70% will likely be limited to a series of pilots, with no additional government funding – suggesting it may never be rolled out nationally.
The measure will be the focus of the prime minister’s housing speech on Thursday to reaffirm his authority amid a Tory uprising.
“Right to buy” first entered the political lexicon when former Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher allowed tenants of the borough to buy their own homes in 1980. †
Proposals for tenants to buy their social housing at a discount are not new and appeared in David Cameron’s 2015 Conservative manifesto.
After that promise fell through, Johnson pledged to consider new pilots for the scheme ahead of the 2019 general election.
Shadow Labor Minister Jess Phillips was among those who questioned how housing policy will work, as individuals with more than £16,000 in savings and investments are ineligible for Universal Credit.
“It’s almost as if Boris Johnson doesn’t do a lot of benefits business,” the MP joked.
It is the last policy the government has proposed that has raised questions about whether they will ever come to fruition.
Also on Wednesday evening The daily emailThe front page suggested that the first flight of migrants to Rwanda from the UK will be held up by an order – with some commentators confrontation is exactly what ministers want.
Former Labor shadow chancellor John McDonnell blamed the housing crisis on the sale of council housing without replacing stock under Thatcher’s original plan.
He told ITV’s Peston: “Selling housing from housing associations is just a political stunt for Boris Johnson, used as cloud cover for the week he had.”
In the coming weeks, Johnson will also push for detailed “reforms to help people cut costs in every area of household spending” as he tries to mitigate the impact of rising prices.
Encouraging a wave of modular or ‘flatpack’ homes to be built is another new measure under active consideration, but it was unclear whether the prime minister will commit to the move in his speech.
The measures come after surviving Monday’s confidence vote, despite the uprising of 41% of its MPs.
“We have the tools we need to face rising prices,” Johnson will say, according to Downing Street’s preview of his speech.
“The global headwind is strong, but our engines are stronger.
“And while it won’t be quick or easy, you can be confident that things will get better, that we will emerge from this strong country with a healthy economy.”
Johnson is expected to add: “Over the coming weeks, the government will introduce reforms to help people cut costs in every area of household spending, from food to energy to childcare to transportation and housing.”
He will also pledge “to reduce the costs the government imposes on businesses and people across the country,” despite his past tax hikes.
On Wednesday, Johnson said the government will “expand home ownership for millions” while pledging to continue in No. 10 despite the turmoil.