Rural housing tenants may not have the right to buy their homes, East Anglian housing chief says

Stephen Javes of Orwell Housing

Stephen Javes of Orwell Housing

The boss of one of East Anglia's major housing associations has told MPs they will not be giving all of their tenants the right to buy their homes.

Stephen Javes, the chief executive of Orwell Housing which mainly operates in Suffolk and Norfolk, said rural and supportive housing in care should be exempted from the Government's flagship policy.

The Conservatives announced ahead of the election the Margaret Thatcher's move to allow council tenants the right to buy their homes would be extended to housing association tenants if they won power.

But the policy has caused uproar among some associations who said they would struggle to replace the homes with new stock and it would lengthen social housing waiting lists.

Last month the Government announced it had struck a 'voluntary deal' with housing associations which included exemptions for rural housing.

Mr Javes, speaking at an evidence session of the Communities and Local Government select committee - the government watchdog looking into the scheme, said he had backed the voluntary agreement.

'We will certainly look at removing stock from the sales canvass for example rural housing, we operate in East Anglia - Norfolk and Suffolk primarily - and it will be important to sustain rural communities.

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He also said they had a significant portfolio of supportive housing in care and would be arguing very strongly that it should be exempted.

In evidence to the committee the lobby group - the Campaign to Protect Rural England - said the level of affordable housing in rural areas had fallen as a result of the loss of council homes through the current 'Right to Buy' scheme for local authority tenants, which had not been offset by increases in housing association delivery. It warned that extending the 'Right to Buy' to housing association homes without special provisions for rural areas would further decrease the already low level of affordable housing stock in rural communities. Mi Javes appeared alongside Diana Kingdon, chief executive of Greenoak Housing Association, Hugh Owen, director of policy and communication at Riverside Group and Tony Stacey, chief executive of South Yorkshire Housing Association.