The pilot schemes

Since the Voluntary Right to Buy (VRTB) agreement was reached in 2015, the Government has set up two pilot schemes to help test how VRTB will work in practice, and ensure a smooth experience for tenants.

Eligible tenants living in the pilot regions have been able to go through the process of buying their own home, with a discount paid for by the Government. An initial pilot was carried out in 2016, and a second pilot launched in the Midlands in summer 2018.

The Midlands pilot

A pilot scheme in the East and West Midlands was launched in August 2018, following the Government’s announcement in the 2016 Autumn Statement of £200m funding for a new regional pilot.

The pilot will last for two years and will test two critical pillars of the original agreement:

  • one-for-one replacement 
  • portability. 

The Midlands pilot will also test the application of the VRTB guidance, which is the policy that details how the scheme will operate. This policy has been jointly designed by housing associations, the Federation and the Government. Our member briefing provides a useful summary of this guidance.

The original pilot

Prior to the Midlands pilot, five housing associations were invited by the Government to take part in a pilot scheme in January 2016:

  • L&Q
  • Riverside
  • Saffron
  • Sovereign
  • Thames Valley Housing.

In collaboration with the pilot associations, we jointly commissioned the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research to conduct research into lessons to be learned from the pilots. 

These learnings have been shared through a series of blogs, and a detailed research report.