Less than half the right to buy homes has been replaced.

“So it’s time for a change.”

The prime minister said the number of tenants exercising the right to buy had been “decreasing steadily” in recent years.

That changed last year when qualifying sales rose by three per cent – the first increase since 2016/17 – but statisticians said this could be to catch up with sales missed during the outbreak.

Since Margaret Thatcher launched the scheme in 1980, a total of more than two million homes have been bought and sold, but less than 5 per cent have been replaced in that time, housing expert Rose Grayston told The Big Issue.

Johnson’s own expansion plans have already raised concerns that the stock of social housing could continue to erode, at a time when a shortage of affordable housing is contributing to the housing crisis and driving up rents and house prices.

“As a result, low-income families who previously had access to social housing are now living in the private rented sector with less security and higher rents,” Grayston said.

“Recently, the government proposed scrapping old plans to extend Right to Buy housing, despite having no plans for how it would deliver on its promise to replace sold-off social housing. This is no way to solve the housing problem.

Earlier this week, MPs on the Standards, Housing and Communities Committee called on the Government to come up with a fully funded scheme to ensure one-to-one allocations for every home sold under Right to Buy.

As part of the committee’s inquiry into social housing regulation, MPs said: “Existing policy has reduced the number of homes available for social rent and has increased the proportion of social housing that is difficult to maintain as most properties are owned. Most of them are bought in the suburbs, not in inner-city areas where hard-to-maintain inventory accumulates.

“To prevent further erosion of the stock of social housing, we recommend that the Government introduce a fully funded scheme to replace every home sold under Right to Buy, one-for-one and like-for-like.”

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