Dear colleague

I’m writing today to share two important new briefings on Voluntary Right to Buy (VRTB).

As you know, since the VRTB agreement was made last year, the sector has been working hard to develop a scheme that works effectively for housing associations and their tenants.

Representatives from across the sector have come together with the Federation and the Government to consider all the different aspects of how a voluntary Right to Buy for housing association tenants will work in practice, and a number of key recommendations have been made to the Government.

Although that process is still ongoing, and will not be finalised until the Government considers and makes decisions on the sector’s recommendations in official guidelines to be published in the summer, the scheme as we, the sector, believe it should work, is now beginning to take real shape.

Now is therefore the time that associations can begin to familiarise themselves with the major recommendations that have gone to the Government so far, and, with boards, start thinking about how they will put the scheme into practice.

These two documents – a briefing outlining what areas you can start to consider now and a live summary of the policy recommendations that have been made – are intended to help you do that.

Member briefing – what you can do now

The most important document is a briefing setting out what associations can begin to do now to prepare for VRTB.

Although the final scheme is still to be agreed, there are many areas which you can decide how you plan to implement. This includes how you will decide which properties to sell, how you will manage the application process, and how you will go about contributing to one for one replacement.

Voluntarily extending this scheme means that housing association boards will retain independence and develop their own local policies on aspects such as discretion not to sell. So it is important that associations agree clearly with their boards in advance what these policies are, and how they will fairly reflect the principle of the voluntary deal that qualifying tenants should normally be able to buy their home.

This briefing, incorporating key experience from the pilots, provides advice on how to go about developing these policies and what other areas you can start to plan for now. We recommend that you use it as a tool to start thinking about how your association will implement the scheme when the time comes.

Live summary of policy recommendations

This document provides a summary of the main recommendations made so far by the Sounding Board and gives an update on an issue-by-issue basis on the emerging policy framework of the scheme.

The Sounding Board is at the heart of the sector’s work to develop VRTB. Over the past few months, it has been receiving proposals about how different aspects of the scheme should work from working groups, workshops, and the pilot scheme and makes recommendations accordingly to the Government. These recommendations are then subject to ministerial decision, so will be sent for consideration and review by ministers, and if approved will form the basis of official guidelines.

Although we have been posting summaries from each Sounding Board meeting on our website, the policy development has been complex and the recommendations on key policy areas can be hard to follow in isolation. This document aims to provide further clarity on recommendations made to date and highlights the issues that are still under discussion.

It will be updated as the scheme continues to develop and, once the recommendations have been reviewed and approved by ministers, will be reflected in the implementation guidelines published later this summer.

What comes next?

We don't have confirmation of the formal start date for VRTB, but once the official guidelines have been published in the summer we know that you will need time to consider the details and implications of local policies before the scheme goes live. That's why we’ll be running a series of roadshows over the late summer and autumn to provide further guidance and support.

We’ll be announcing dates for these roadshows soon, but if you’d like to register your interest in the meantime please email righttobuy@housing.org.uk. You can also use this email address to contact us with any questions you have about VRTB.

Yours sincerely,

David Orr

Chief Executive
National Housing Federation
Direct line: 020 7067 1021   Switchboard: 020 7067 1010
Twitter: @natfeddavid

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