Byers has revealed proposals to offer people living in council and housing association property interest-free loans for a deposit to be repaid to the Government on sale or transfer.
It is hoped that the move could encourage new buyers into the private sector, freeing council property.
Byers is urging ministers to devise “simple and straightforward ways in which people can be helped on to the first rung of the homeownership ladder”. His plans include an interest-free loan, with the amount set according to the number of years people have been renting and local prices.
He believes the move would go some way to address a “feeling of injustice” among those paying high levels of rent who feel they would be better off paying a mortgage.
Conservative Treasury spokesman Howard Flight says: “The question is who is paying for all this? This is typical Labour robbing with one hand by removing stamp duty so people can’t get enough money together for a deposit and supposedly giving with another. It sound like general election hype to me.”