Cameron says ending lifetime council tenancies will ‘help social mobility’

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A Conservative minister has claimed council tenants may benefit from losing the right to live in their home for life because they might not have thought about buying their own property before.

Marcus Jones, a housing minister, said the new five-year limit on council tenancies would encourage people to own their properties.

Labour has accused the government of a “vendetta against council tenants”, while housing charities said it would break up communities, after the government quietly inserted the changes into the new housing and planning bill.

But Jones made the claim that council tenants would benefit after he was pressed by Labour MP Peter Dowd to justify the argument that it would “help social mobility”.

Speaking in the housing and planning bill committee, Jones said: “All of the policies within this bill are aimed at helping social mobility. We want people who are able to purchase their own property or able to exercise the right to buy to do so, to exercise what we see as a right to social mobility.

“Within this policy, in many cases, the circumstances of tenants will be reviewed, and in certain cases, where they so feel they are able to do so, it may well prompt some people who otherwise may not have thought about purchasing their own home to actually go forward and purchase their own home, which I think is an important opportunity for everyone to do.”

Gareth Thomas, Labour MP and former London mayoral candidate, who sits on the committee, said some of the minister’s remarks had been “insensitive” to those who will lose their homes.

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