03/04/2012 02:37 BST

David Cameron Hails Council Homes Discount

A dramatic increase in the discount available to tenants buying their council homes will restore "a vital rung on the property ladder", David Cameron said as the new policy came into force.

The Prime Minister hopes giving up to £75,000 off will reinvigorate the right-to-buy scheme introduced by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s and encourage the creation of "stable mixed communities".

Sales have tailed off significantly after discounts were cut in the 1990s and not adjusted to properly reflect fast-rising house prices with only 3,690 completed in 2010/11.

Under the revised allowances, those who have five years' residency could receive a 35% discount, with an extra 1% for each added year up to a maximum of £75,000.

Tenants in flats will get 50% off after five years, with 2% added yearly.

Ministers say there will be no reduction in social housing as the money raised from sales will go towards building more - but town hall chiefs have warned the centrally-set discounts may adversely affect some areas.

Mr Cameron said: "I want many more people to achieve the dream of home ownership.

"In the 80s, Right to Buy helped millions of people living in council housing achieve their aspiration of owning their own home.

"It gave something back to families who worked hard, paid their rent and played by the rules. It allowed them to do up their home, change their front door, improve their garden - without getting permission from the council.

"It gave people a sense of pride and ownership not just in their home, but in their street and neighbourhood, helping to build strong families and stable mixed communities. But over time the discounts were cut, they didn't keep pace with rises in property prices, and this vital rung on the property ladder was all but removed.

"This Government is now putting it back by dramatically increasing the discount rates so that we support the dreams of those council tenants who to want to own the roof over their head."