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Tory proposals on social housing are welcomed

However, the Federation, which represents England’s housing associations, has aired its concern about another suggested policy, the "right to move".

Under this scheme, tenants would be able to demand their housing association sell their current property and use the proceeds, minus transaction costs, to buy another property of their choice – anywhere in England.

Federation chief executive David Orr said: "The Conservative Party’s housing green paper is innovative and imaginative in many ways.

"The idea of giving tenants with an excellent payment history an equity share in their social home is a proposal that looks interesting and merits further investigation. It could assist some tenants into owner occupation and by doing so create a new letting.

"The proposal to allow housing associations to use public funding to bring empty homes back into use is an excellent one. With such acute housing need in much of the country, no-one wants to see homes lying empty.

"The idea for a ‘right to move’ is poorly thought-out, unworkable and a recipe for confusion. It would mean that housing associations could end up with properties dotted all over the country, with their maintenance staff having to spend entire days travelling across the country, and emitting huge amounts of carbon, just to get to one property. 

"Alternatively, it could lead to local housing associations managing a wide range of one off properties for other associations with considerable additional costs and a large VAT bill.

"This scheme could not be implemented without adding massively to the costs of housing associations – which would inevitably hamper their ability to provide badly needed new homes and vital community services."

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) also supported the Conservative’s Housing Green Paper.

Ian Potter, operations manager of ARLA, said: "ARLA welcomes the Conservative Party’s Housing Green Paper and its recognition that the private rented sector plays a key role in giving greater choice and flexibility to millions of households, as well as meeting more immediate accommodation needs.

"We agree with Grant Shapps that regulation needs to be consistent and are pleased that the Conservatives will look at the issue of rogue landlords.

"However, the issue is also one of agents and ARLA would be keen to see more proactivity on the regulation of letting agents. Referring back to the recommendations of Rugg Review in October last year, ARLA again calls for the compulsory licensing of all letting agents to raise professionalism and confidence in the sector.

"In the absence of a Government-led scheme – and it seems a proposal from the Shadow Cabinet – ARLA will be launching its own licensing scheme, introducing the highest standards for letting agents in the UK, in early May."

Housing charity Shelter has also voiced its support.

Chief executive Adam Sampson said: "The Conservative Party has rightly acknowledged that our systemic failure to build enough homes has resulted in the housing crisis we now face, and we welcome their strong commitment to build more affordable homes to address this. We are particularly keen to see further detail on planned Conservative investment in housing to see exactly how this increase in supply will be delivered.

"Shelter recognises that there is a need to make it easier for social housing tenants to move, for example to pursue job opportunities, and we welcome the intention of supporting mobility for social tenants. However, with 1.8 million households currently on council housing waiting lists, the top priority from all political parties must be to deliver the social rented homes this country so desperately needs.

"More social homes will not only provide better choice for existing tenants but also give people trapped on waiting lists the chance of a decent, affordable home.

"Given the severity of the housing crisis, we urge Conservative councils around the country to champion house building at a local level to ensure we start building now."

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