Plan to allow housing benefit to be used to buy homes shows lack of understanding for the benefits system

"It's almost as if Boris Johnson doesn't do much benefits casework," says Labour MP Jess Phillips.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is scheduled to deliver a speech in Lancashire today, during which he will discuss his plans to extend the right to buy for tenants living in housing association properties, as well as make it possible for lower-paid workers to purchase homes with the assistance of housing benefits.

After suffering heavy losses as a result of a Tory rebellion against his leadership, the Prime Minister is seemingly making an effort to restore his fortunes.

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He will have high hopes that the measures to help individuals get a foothold on the property ladder would win over dissidenting MPs and voters who are now contending with new pressures brought on by the rising cost of living.

In the coming weeks, Mr. Johnson will make a commitment to specify “reforms to help people cut costs in every area of household expenditure.”

According to the Times, which was the first publication to reveal the proposal, he would argue that the £30 billion in housing benefit that is presently going towards rent should instead be used to help individuals get and pay for mortgages.

However, according to the newspaper, his separate desire to give millions of tenants the ability to pay for housing association properties at discounts of up to 70 percent is likely to be limited to a series of pilots for the time being because the government is not providing any additional funding for this initiative.

However, the proposal may deviate from Margaret Thatcher’s original right-to-buy policy in that there is a possibility of a pledge to the effect that every home that is purchased under the programme would be replaced in order to prevent the supply from becoming depleted.

Jess Phillips, the Shadow Minister for Labour, was one of the persons who questioned the feasibility of the housing benefits programme. This is due to the fact that individuals who have more than sixteen thousand pounds in savings and investments do not qualify for Universal Credit.

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The Labour MP made a witty remark about how it is “almost as if Boris Johnson doesn’t do much benefits casework.”

There is also a question about whether people on such low incomes will be able to afford to maintain their homes and carry out necessary repairs, without the assistance of local councils or housing associations.

It comes as Mr. Johnson has promised to remain in his position as Prime Minister despite the fact that 148 of his own MPs did not support him in a vote of confidence held earlier in the week. 

However, according to the PA news agency, Mr. Johnson would reiterate his intention to grant renters of housing association properties the ability to buy their houses.

The press notice that Downing Street released ahead of the speech gave little detail about the intentions.

The idea that social housing tenants should have the option to buy their houses at a reduced price is not a new one; in fact, it was included in David Cameron’s Conservative platform in 2015.

After it became clear that this promise would not be fulfilled, Mr. Johnson made a fresh commitment to explore further pilots for the programme before the general election in 2019.

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