Labour’s shadow housing minister calls on regulators to investigate government proposal to extend Right to Buy to housing associations

Labour’s shadow housing minister John Healey has urged regulators to intervene to halt the government’s proposed extension of Right to Buy to housing associations.

Healey has written to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), the Charity Commission and the National Audit Office (NAO) requesting they investigate the policy.

The letters (attached below) come in advance of a vote this Friday by housing associations on whether or not to accept the extension of the Right to Buy policy to the sector on a voluntary basis, following a deal struck between the National Housing Federation and communities secretary Greg Clark.

The proposal would avoid the need for statutory regulation which associations fear could see them reclassified as public sector bodies.

Healey, in these letters, has expressed concerns regarding the speed at which the housing associations are required to take a decision and stating he considers the proposals to “be a very bad deal for the taxpayer”.

He also raised concerns over whether the appropriate due diligence and governance arrangements are being followed; the appropriate financial and legal advice has been taken; the legality of the current proposals under charity law and the questions over housing associations independence and charitable status; and value for money concerns

Healey has said that giving the associations six working days to decide on these changes is “a completely unrealistic and unreasonable demand for ministers to make of independent bodies. It is a deadline driven by the political interests of Conservative Ministers trying to deliver a deal for Conservative party conference not in the long-term interest of the public.”

He adds: “I have therefore called on the Homes and Communities Agency, the Charity Commission and the National Audit Office to investigate, respond to the questions raised ahead of the Friday deadline set by Ministers and if necessary to seek the extension of that deadline which is clearly in the interest of tenants and taxpayers.”