Council housing England bill
Long-term council tenants have the right to buy their home at a discountDan Kitwood/Getty Images

Sales of council homes under the Right to Buy scheme hit their highest level in more than two years in the three months to the end of June.

Government statistics show there were 3,362 Right to Buy sales in the first quarter of the 2016-17 financial year, the highest quarterly figure since the final three months of 2013-14, when there were 3,381.

Introduced by the Thatcher administration, Right to Buy allows council tenants to buy their homes at a discount, subject to certain conditions. It was part of a drive to boost homeownership in the country with the vision of building a property-owning democracy.

But the scheme is controversial and fell out of favour in the late 1990s and 2000s. It is blamed for depleting the social housing stock because Right to Buy sales have not been replaced at anything near the same rate they are sold.

It has seen a revival under the Conservatives, who are trying to reverse the recent decline of the homeownership rate, but the government has now committed to replacing all new Right to Buy sales. The government is also extending Right to Buy to housing associations, though only on a voluntary basis.

It will be funded by forcing councils to sell off their most valuable vacant housing and passing the money to the Treasury.