Ruth Kelly expected to announce plans to extend share-purchase schemes for social tenants

The government is set to unveil plans to allow more tenants on to the housing ladder as part of Gordon Brown’s drive to expand home ownership.

Ruth Kelly, the communities secretary, is expected to announce a housing policy paper at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s annual conference, which will be held the week before Brown becomes prime minister.

The paper will outline plans to extend existing schemes under which social housing tenants can buy a share in their homes.

Under the proposals, they will be able to build up savings when they pay rent, which can then be cashed in to buy their home.

The policy paper is also expected to contain plans for the merger of English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation. It will outline the powers of the new agency, Communities England, and the schedule for its establishment. It will form the basis for parliamentary legislation to establish the agency, which is being pencilled in for the autumn.

The news of the government’s plans to widen home ownership emerged in the same week that figures were published showing that 4 million people believe they will never own their home.

A survey, carried out by polling company YouGov for the National Housing and Planning Advice Unit, shows that 35% of non-home owners believe they will never be in a position to buy.

The poll was published to mark the unit’s launch this week.

In a separate analysis, the unit says that in 20 years’ time, just 40% of typical first-time buyers aged between 30 and 34 will be able to enter the housing market, if there is no increase in the current housebuilding plans of 190,000 homes per year.