Prime Minister David Cameron defended his government’s housing policies in the first Prime Minister’s Questions session of the new parliament yesterday.
Acting leader of the opposition Harriet Harman attacked the Prime Minister’s plan to extend Margaret Thatcher’s “Right to Buy,” scheme, which will allow housing association tenants to buy their homes at a discount of up to £102,700 in London and £77,000 in the rest of England.
The government has said that it will force local authorities to sell off their most-expensive council houses in order to fund the discount. Harman said Cameron would not be able to replace the sold council houses on a one-to-one basis, as he has promised.
“He promised that for every council home sold another one would be built,” Harman said, referring to commitments Cameron made during the last government.
“That did not happen: for every 10 sold, only one has been built,” she added. “Less affordable housing means that people have to be in more expensive private rented accommodation, which means a higher housing benefit bill.”
Cameron responded: “We built more council homes in the last five years than were built under 13 years of the previous Labour government.”
The Prime Minister also called members of the Labour party the “enemies of aspiration” for not supporting the Right to Buy scheme.
The back-and-forth came on the same day as the Treasury released its latest figures showing that Help to Buy, another Cameron policy giving equity loans and mortgage guarantees to qualifying homebuyers, had facilitated the purchase of 100,000 homes since it was introduced in 2013.