AMI: Scrap Tory pledge on right-to-buy

Robert Sinclair, chief executive of AMI, said: “The plan to give tenants the right to buy might be one of the most misguided election pledges.

“The money paid by the owner will rarely be enough to allow the asset to be replaced and will diminish the stock available to those who really need help.

“It has to be hoped that this is one plan that does not have a future.”

Under the plans, the Conservatives propose to force councils to sell off their most valuable 210,000 properties, raising money to fund an extension of the right to buy scheme for housing association tenants.

The Tories claim sold council housing will be replaced by building new affordable housing in the same area while a further £1bn raised through the scheme would be spent over four years to ready brownfield sites for house building.

Housing association tenants will also be able to take up a discount on buying a housing association property capped at £102,700 in London and £77,000 for the rest of England - creating 400,000 extra homes.

But Sinclair said all parties’ promises to build more new homes were undeliverable.

He said: “All of our house builders will need time to recruit enough bricklayers, plumbers and electricians as well as roofers to increase significantly their production.

“In addition, the supply industry is not resourced to meet any large uplift in demand.”

And he added: “What is undoubted is that local authorities no longer have the expertise of the funding to produce housing at the rates being proposed.”

Prime Minister David Cameron has said in the past that he believed the industry is on track to build 200,000 new homes a year by 2017.

Housing charity Shelter said 250,000 new homes are required every year and the proposed Tory scheme was only a "small step" towards meeting that need.

The number of houses built in the UK fell during the final three months of 2014 and last year 137,000 homes were started.