House buyers: Council tenants to get 50 per cent discount

Council tenants will be given discounts of up to 50 per on the value of their home if they exercise their "right to buy" the property.

But for those looking for easy money by selling their central London property for hundreds of thousands of pounds and pocketing the savings there will be disappointment.

The total amount a tenant can make will be capped and there are likely to be restrictions on how soon they can sell on the property after buying it.

The Government is due to publish a consultation on exactly how the scheme will work in the next few weeks.

Ministers have promised that it will be much more generous than the current scheme which Mr Osborne said had been "stealthily strangled" by Labour "as discounts were cut and cut again".

But while ministers have pledged that revenue will be ploughed back into building new affordable homes there is still a big question mark over whether their sums add up.

The larger the discount the less money the Treasury will have to build new houses. And that could be mean less social housing for those people who really need it.

Mr Osborne also confirmed new mortgage indemnities to help 100,000 such families buy newly built homes.

This, he hopes, could reduce deposits for first-time buyers from 20 per cent levels at present to just 5 per cent.

But critics point out that at a time of great economic uncertainly it may not be advisable to load such levels of debt on new homeowners.

It could end up leading to a new wave of repossessions – especially if unemployment continues to rise.

Mass home ownership is a particularly British obsession not shared on the Continent – and, they said, a model far better suited to the current economic environment.