Government plans to extend access to the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants have been dealt a blow by the House of Lords.
The upper house has voted in favour of an amendment to the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill that would block the measure by offering additional protection to charities from having their assets sequestrated.
Backed by Lord Kerslake, a crossbench peer and chair of the Peabody housing association, as well as the Labour peer Baroness Hayter, the clause will empower the Charity Commission to protect not-for-profit organisations from their properties being nationalised.
The new clause stipulates: "The Charity Commission shall ensure that independent charities are not compelled to use or dispose of their assets in a way which is inconsistent with their charitable purposes."
With the motion passed by a margin of 257 to 174, Baroness Hayter argued that the government's current stance could disincentivise people from contributing money or property to charitable causes, as they would not have confidence that their donations would not be requisitioned by the government and turned to different purposes.
Although the wording of the clause did not specifically mention housing associations, many of these organisations have charitable status. Therefore, this move would prevent the government from carrying through its plan to make it possible for tenants to purchase their housing stock at a discount.
Currently, the Right to Buy scheme only applies to council housing tenants, but the government wishes to extend its remit to include housing associations though a housing bill that will be presented to parliament later this year.
The Charities Bill, with the new amendment in place, will leave the House of Lords to be considered by the House of Commons after the parliamentary recess, which has now commenced and will last until September 7th.