Brits ‘can use housing benefit to pay mortgages’ as Boris Johnson reveals right to buy restructuring

Boris Johnson is expected to unveil pledges to boost homeownership in a big speech today as he fights to bolster his leadership – but critics have pointed to holes in the programme

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Michael Gove says homeownership is ‘good for society’

Brits can use housing benefit payments to meet their mortgage costs under plans due to be announced today.

Boris Johnson will outline new housing proposals in a speech in Blackpool as he seeks to roll back his position as Prime Minister after surviving a no-confidence vote.

The Prime Minister is expected to announce home ownership pledges that will allow lower-paid workers to count their benefits towards a mortgage.

Housing benefit, which costs the government £30 billion a year, cannot currently be declared as income on a mortgage.

But the idea has raised questions about how applicants can save for a deposit, as people are only eligible for Housing Benefit if they have less than £16,000 in savings.

Mr Johnson will also set out his intention to expand Margaret Thatcher’s Right to Buy scheme to allow housing association tenants to buy their homes at discounted prices.

Brits are facing increasing pressure on the cost of living


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But Housing Secretary Michael Gove said there will be a cap on the number of people who can benefit from the scheme’s expansion – and was unable to put a figure on this.

He told Sky News: “I will discuss this with housing associations.”

Critics have expressed concerns that the policy will wipe out housing associations’ vital stock of properties, but Mr Gove insisted the Government would ensure there were new houses to replace those bought up.

Mr Gove said: “One of the things we will do is ensure there is a replacement – an equivalent, one-for-one replacement.

“Yesterday I tabled legislation in the House of Commons that means there will be a new developer levy.

“That means that in new developments, when new homes come up for sale from the big housing companies, we take some of the money they make and set aside some of that money explicitly to make sure it’s more affordable or social housing Social housing for people who need it.”

Labor’s Lisa Nandy warned the idea had “practical problems”.


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Labor warned that the government had not thought through the details of the plan.

Shadow Leveling Up secretary Lisa Nandy told Sky News: “The government can say they want to open up mortgages to people on housing benefits, but if lenders don’t agree it’s not going to happen.

“There are also real practical problems.

“To qualify for Universal Credit you need to have less than £16,000 in savings, which means most of the people the Government is trying to reach with this announcement will not have anywhere near the amount they want to deposit need on a home to qualify for this mortgage.”

It comes amid severe household budget constraints, with a petrol price hike taking the average cost of a full tank for a 55-litre family car to more than £100 for the first time.

In his speech, Mr Johnson will say: “We have the tools we need to get a grip on rising prices.

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“The global headwinds are strong, but our engines are stronger.

“And while it won’t be quick or easy, you can have confidence that things will get better, that we will come out of this country as a strong country with a healthy economy.”

Daisy Cooper, deputy leader of the Lib Dem, accused the Prime Minister of spreading “more hot air and waffles”.

She said: “If the Prime Minister had any idea how to help millions of families and pensioners, he would cut VAT, abandon social security increases and tackle the housing crisis.

“Instead, instead of getting a grip on his government, he sets out to spread more hot air and ramble on.”

Suggestions for tenants to buy their council housing at a discount first appeared in David Cameron’s 2015 Tory Manifesto.

After that pledge fell through, Mr Johnson pledged to consider new pilots for the program ahead of the 2019 general election.

Former Treasury Secretary Nick Macpherson tweeted: “One day many years later HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] will accept that the way to affordable housing is to ensure that supply exceeds demand: that would be leadership.

“By then, expect plenty of initiatives to spur demand to support those who own property at the expense of those who don’t.”

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