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Stock-owning councils seek urgent meeting over right-to-buy

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Local authorities and arms-length management organisations are seeking an urgent meeting with communities secretary Greg Clark over a potential deal with housing associations on an extended right-to-buy.

The Association of Retained Council Housing (ARCH) and the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA) have sent a joint letter to Mr Clark expressing their disappointment with the lack of consultation with councils on the potential agreement. They have called for “full and proper engagement and consultation” with affected local authorities before the deal is agreed.

The proposed deal would see housing associations fully compensated for the sale of any properties under right-to-buy using funds generated by forcing councils to sell off their most expensive housig stock.

In a statement ARCH and the NFA said they had been “excluded” from the discussions despite the fact they were “integral” to the policy’s implementation.

“Given councils are in effect being asked to fund the deal through disposal of their own housing assets, it would be wholly reasonable for the NFA and ARCH to expect ministers and the housing association sector to include some provision for full and proper engagement and consultation with stock retained councils and their ALMOs on the issues before any final ‘deal” is struck,” they said.

ARCH and the NFA said there were “clearly many issues” in relation to the way the policy would work in practice but added they wanted to work “constructively” with housing associations and the government “to promote the efficient asset management” of housing stock, without it having a negative impact on local authority housing business plans.

The Conservatives pledged to extend the right-to-buy to housing association tenants in their general election manifesto.

The party had intended to introduce legislation to implement the change, but communities secretary Greg Clark announced last week that the government would not do that if housing associations signed up to a ‘voluntary’ agreement put forward by the National Housing Federation.

Under the terms of the NHF proposal, there will be a presumption for housing associations to provide tenants with the right-to-buy but the organisations could still block the sale of homes in areas where there are shortages of social housing. If that happened, tenants would be offered the opportunity to purchase a property, or a stake in one, in another area instead.

Writing exclusively for LGC today, David Montague, chair of the g15 group of London’s largest housing associations, stressed they had not “advocated the sale of council homes to fund this policy at any point”.

Housing associations have until tomorrow afternoon to vote on the NHF’s proposal.

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