A combative Kit Malthouse took the fight for Right for Buy (RTB) to Labour’s Commons benches – branding repeated attacks on the scheme a “sad spectacle”.
Taunted over figures said to show the scheme as a failure – with only one home being built for every four sold – Malthouse turned the argument Labour “detaching itself from its historic supporter base”.
The House was debating New Homes for Social Rent, with Labour’s Liz Twist asking Malthouse what recent assessment he had made of trends in the level of such homes since 2010.
Urging a suspension of RTB, Twist said: “The Government’s pledge to replace homes sold under the council right to buy scheme has been a failure, with only one home being built for every four sold.
“Why should anyone believe that things will be different when it is extended to housing association tenants?”
Malthouse acknowledged that the one-for-one replacement policy has not been sufficient to provide the number of social homes needed, referencing a both the related policy review and ending the HRA cap.
Then the gloves came off.
“There are plenty of signs that the Labour party is detaching itself from its historic supporter base, but one of the saddest is its inability to grasp the aspiration of working families to own their own home,” said Malthouse.
“The concerted attack on one of the most popular policies of the past 30 years – the right to buy – is a very sad spectacle. “
Labour’s Rachael Maskell took a localised line to say City of York Council – the Tory-Lib-Dem controlled authority serving her York Central seat – had presided over a net loss of social housing.
She cited a report by Centre for Cities that said the council’s level of house building was one of the worst in the country, saying: “We have a serious housing crisis. What steps will the Minister take to ensure that our council builds the housing that is so desperately needed in our city?
Malthouse said “significant resources” had been set aside to help councils achieve their housing aspirations.
“We will be helping with infrastructure and providing other assistance to help them over the line.
“Critical to that, however, is ensuring that they have a local plan.
“I am sure that the coalition that is in control of City of York Council would welcome (Maskell’s) participation in their creation of such a plan – rather than her antagonism towards it.”