Plan to give public land to developers and pay for homes with receipts from council house sales

Prime minister David Cameron yesterday launched an expansion of the Conservative party’s Right to Buy programme in order to generate funds to build 200,000 new homes.

In an interview to mark the start of the Party’s annual conference in Manchester, Cameron said he would increase the discount available to council tenants to buy their own homes, and use the money from the sale of the homes to build new houses.

Government departments will also be forced to hand over land to developers, as part of a housing strategy to be unveiled in the autumn.

Cameron told the Andrew Marr show yesterday that: “The housing market isn’t working. Why isn’t working? Because of the debt crisis, the banks are bunged up with debt, so the banks aren’t lending, the builders aren’t building and the buyers can’t buy because they can’t get the mortgages that they need.

“So this government isn’t just sitting back, we are rolling up our sleeves and saying right, we’re going to make over government land to house-builders on the basis that they can build now and pay for the land when they sell the homes.

“That could build 100,000 homes, 200,000 jobs in our economy. We’re not stopping there, we’re saying let’s bring back the right to buy your council house, with proper discounts that Labour got rid of, and let’s use that money, as people choose to buy their council home, let’s use that money to build homes for rent, for low rents for families that are currently stuck on housing lists.”

The Right to Buy initiative was introduced by the Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher in 1980, resulting in the sell-off of hundreds of thousands of homes in the last thirty years. However, the receipts from sales were not kept to be invested in new homes.

Cameron was responding to critics, including the chair of the Treasury select committee, Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie, who say that the Coalition government lacks a credible plan for growth.

The Labour party responded to Cameron’s announcement by saying that the economy was “flatlining” thanks to his policies and he had run out of ideas.