Boris Johnson's new housing plans receive mixed reactions from Suffolk experts

Boris Johnson, Joanne Leek, and Jools Ramsey

Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out new housing plans in a speech given on Thursday, June 9. - Credit: PA Media/UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Simply C Photography/Cherry Beesley/Andrew Papworth

Fears have been voiced that government proposals to enable housing association tenants to buy their homes would reduce the amount of social housing available to help people in need.

Under plans designed to boost home ownership, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out ideas which will allow people to use housing benefits to buy homes and extend the right-to-buy scheme.

Currently, savings of over £16,000 automatically make people ineligible for means-tested benefits. 

However, Mr Johnson's proposals explore the possibility that house deposit savings made into ISAs will be discounted from the Universal Credit eligibility rules and therefore will not impact the recipient's ability to claim.

Joanne Leek, a mortgage expert from Suffolk Building Society, said: "Whilst we welcome new initiatives to help people own their own homes, these announcements must always be taken with a dose of reality - and the devil is in the detail.

"The headline of allowing housing benefit payments to meet mortgage costs sounds great, but the underlying fact is that this benefit is for people with less than £16,000 in savings - a modest amount when it comes to a deposit on the average home, reported to now cost a record £289,099."

Joanne Leek

Marketing manager of Suffolk Building Society Joanne Leek addressed the new initiatives with caution. - Credit: Simply C Photography/Cherry Beesley

Mr Johnson also confirmed his intention to give tenants of the 2.5 million housing association properties the right to buy their homes.

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Those who rent from housing associations do not have access to the right-to-buy policy, unlike council tenants who have been able to buy their homes at a discount since Margaret Thatcher introduced the scheme in 1980.

Ms Leek added: "The plan to extend the right-to-buy scheme will offer tenants the chance to remain in their current property with the security of total ownership will increase numbers of privately-owned housing stock, and therefore raises real concerns over the supply of social housing.

"With the government predicted to fall short on their 2019 manifesto of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s, this is a crucial issue which needs attention."

Jools Ramsey

Chief executive of Ipswich Housing Action Group Jools Ramsey welcomed the housing review. - Credit: Andrew Papworth

Chief executive of Ipswich Housing Action Group Jools Ramsey welcomed the housing review and said: "There is a significant lack of affordable housing available for people in Suffolk and building projects are failing to keep pace with demand.

"I am very interested in seeing the details of this review and how the government intends to support people to make the right choice for their own personal circumstances."