Officials in the social housing sector have flagged up concerns with plans to force social tenants on high salaries to pay market rent.

Last week, chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne confirmed that any households in social rented accommodation with salaries of £30,000 or more - £40,000 in London - must pay market rent in order to remain in their home.

However, Tom Murtha, founder of the housing campaign group SHOUT, believes the proposal is "irrelevant" as it applies to a mere handful of tenants.

Speaking to the Independent, he also argued it would be difficult to enforce, as social landlords do not typically keep data on their tenants' income.

Similar concerns were raised by Paul Hackett, chief executive of Amicus Horizon, who told Inside Housing that landlords "just don't have that information". As a result, he believes it could only work if landlords were assisted by the tax office.

Mick Sweeney, chief executive of One Housing Group, added that the so-called pay to stay proposals suggest the government does not think occupants of social housing are "full citizens".

He compared the policy with views expressed by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, as she "used to say if you go to work on a bus, there's something wrong with you".

Mr Sweeney described Mr Osborne's stance as "very dismissive and arrogant", and accused the government of "doing all they can to dismantle local authority and housing association affordable rented housing".

Speaking in his keynote speech last week, Mr Osborne said it is unfair that families earning more than £30,000 should "have their rents subsidised by other working people".

He argued the benefits system should not "support lifestyles and rents that are not available to the taxpayers who pay for that system".