Boris Johnson will promise to boost home ownership later – as he attempts to repair relations with Tory MPs who revolted against his leadership.

In a speech in Lancashire, the PM is expected to say he wants to extend the right to buy to people who rent from housing associations.

He will also promise action in the coming weeks to cut household costs.

It comes after four in ten of his MPs voted against him in a confidence vote on Monday triggered by Partygate.

The worse-than-expected result followed months of criticism over parties in Downing Street during lockdown that broke Covid rules.

However, there is also unhappiness among Conservative MPs over taxation policy and a range of other issues.

The prime minister’s speech is expected to include new plans to allow people to use housing benefit payments to buy homes and make monthly mortgage payments.

Housing benefits, which help low-income or unemployed people pay their rent, costs the government around £30bn a year, a large proportion of which goes to private landlords. A person is not usually eligible for housing benefit if they have a mortgage.

Labour said the policies sounded like a “rehash” of old Conservative pledges and would show the government was “out of ideas”.


Council tenants in England have been able to buy their homes at a discount since October 1980, when the policy was introduced under former Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

But the same is not true for people who rent from housing associations, unless their property was once owned by a local authority and they lived in it during this period.

The right-to-buy policy has been blamed for exhausting supplies of social housing that have not been replaced, but has long held a totemic status within parts of the Tory party.

In England in 2020-21, around four million households – 17% of the total – lived in rented social housing. Of those, 2.4 million – 10% of the total – rented from housing associations, while 1.6 million – 7% of the total – rented from local authorities.

Replacement guarantees

Proposals to extend the the right to buy to housing association tenants on a voluntary basis began under ex-prime minister David Cameron.

However, only pilot schemes have since been implemented, which the Conservatives pledged to extend in their 2019 election manifesto.

The National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, has said any extension to the right to buy should include a guarantee that any homes sold would be replaced, a commitment the BBC has been told will be included in the government’s plans.

In a recent statement, the federation said replacing housing association stock is difficult to achieve in practice because the money generated through sales is not enough to build new social homes.

About two million council homes in England have been sold under right to buy since 1980

Downing Street said Mr Johnson would confirm ambitions to boost housing supplies and help more people onto the property market.

The changes to allow people to use their housing benefit to pay a mortgage are understood to be part of this, although the policy – and further details – have not been confirmed.

Responding to reports of the policy, Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation think tank, wrote on Twitter: “Let’s see the detail but there’s no way [the Treasury] will agree to allowing housing benefit to be used to pay a mortgage – huge cost implications.”

He added that broader reforms to the mortgage market would likely be needed to bring about significant increases in home ownership – such as relaxing restrictions on the amount people can borrow to buy a home.

According to extracts of Mr Johnson’s speech released by No 10, he will promise further measures “over the next few weeks” on living costs, amid 40-year high inflation driven by increases in energy costs.

He is expected to say these will target food, energy, childcare, transport and housing – although no details were given.

The PM will add: “We have the tools we need to get on top of rising prices. The global headwinds are strong. But our engines are stronger.”

“And, while it’s not going to be quick or easy, you can be confident that things will get better, that we will emerge from this a strong country with a healthy economy.”

Labour’s shadow trade secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the proposals for housing association tenants were “an indication of a government that is out of ideas”.

Speaking on BBC Two’s Newsnight, he added: “Existing right-to-buy schemes – they’ve not been replaced like-for-like with other social housing.

“Nor is this dealing with the fundamental problem of affordability, and people being able to have affordable homes.

“What the government should be doing is looking at this more broadly. Have a proper plan to do it, including, for example, looking at the definition of affordability and properly link it to local wages.”

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