Change right-to-buy to stop rural communities becoming out of reach for young families, urges Chartered Institute of Housing

Catherine Neilan
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Village life: Too expensive for young families and those on lower incomes (Source: Getty)

We've all got used to the fact that young people and those on lower-to-middle incomes are being priced out of the city. Now it seems they are being priced out of the country too.

The Chartered Institute of Housing has warned that continuing the right-to-buy scheme as it currently stands is making it increasingly difficult for young families to get on the housing ladder in rural areas. It is calling on the government to introduce a ban in certain communities to help "protect the dwindling supply of affordable homes".
Exempting the initiative, which allows council tenants to buy their home at a discount, in areas where the population is less than 3,000 would stop vital social housing being lost, the organisation claimed.
Social homes should also be replaced on a genuine one-for-one basis, and councils should be allowed to keey more of the cash from each sale, it added.
CIH also warned that an increase in right-to-buy fraud – which has risen five-fold since 2009/10 and Audit Commission estimates suggest now costs £12.3m each year – was also putting a strain on the affordable end of the housing market.
The group is putting forward a series of recommendations including extending the time local authorities have to process applications and putting mandatory affordability checks in place.
“Banning people who already own another property and stopping applicants including a third party, other than a joint tenant, on their mortgage application or adding their name to the property deeds would help to make sure the scheme is genuinely helping people to become home owners, not allowing them to become private landlords or to pass the property on to relatives,” the CIH added.
Interim chief executive Gavin Smart said: “This policy has had a huge effect on the supply of genuinely affordable homes, which is being cut at a time when more and more people are in need.
“We think it’s time for the government to take a serious look at the way it’s working and the impact it’s having on the number of affordable homes we can provide for people who are struggling.”
He added: “Many rural communities are already at risk of becoming home only to wealthy or older people, with young people and people on lower incomes priced out.
“Exempting these communities from right to buy would help stem the loss of vital affordable housing. And when homes are sold under right to buy, we need to make sure they are going to people who have a right to benefit.”

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