Former Sheffield Council boss slams right-to-buy plans

Lord Bob Kerslake, former Sheffield Council chief executive.
Lord Bob Kerslake, former Sheffield Council chief executive.

A former Sheffield Council boss is set to publicly denounce criticise David Cameron’s controversial plans to extend the Conservatives’ flagship right-to-buy scheme to housing association tenants.

Lord Bob Kerslake – the most senior official at the Department of Communities and Local Government until February – will use his maiden speech in the House of Lords tomorrow to warn the plan, set out in the Tory general election manifesto, will do nothing to address the housing shortage.

Lord Kerslake – Sheffield Council chief executive for 10 years from 1997 and now officially known as Baron Kerslake of Endcliffe – said: “I will raise my serious concerns about the policy in its current form.

“I think it’s wrong in principle and wrong in practice, and it won’t help tackle the urgent need to build more housing and more affordable housing in this country, particularly in London.”

Under the Conservative plans, 1.3 million tenants in housing association homes in England will be able to buy their properties at discounts of up to £104,000 in London and more than £77,000 elsewhere.

Ministers say housing associations will be compensated with money raised by forcing local authorities to sell off their most expensive housing stock as it becomes vacant, ensuring the affordable properties which are sold are replaced.

However the proposals have been criticised by housing associations, with many threatening to sue the Government if they are forced to sell.

Brandon Lewis, housing minister, said: “More council housing has been built since 2010 than in the previous 13 years.

“However, it is important councils make the best use of their assets and manage their housing stock as efficiently as possible. So it is right that, as high-value council homes become empty, they should be sold to fund new affordable housebuilding in the same area.

“The proposals in the Queen’s Speech will do that and more, extending Right-to-Buy-level discounts to more than a million housing association tenants, with the homes sold replaced on a one-for-one basis.”