THE GOVERNMENT is aiming to kickstart sales of council homes in Oxford by offering tenants discounts of up to £75,000.

But the city council claimed the Government scheme could have “devastating” effects.

Council house sales in the city have all but dried up in recent years, with the current local right-to-buy scheme capping discounts at £16,000.

But the prospect of discounts being quadrupled holds out the prospect of a return to the days of former Premier Margaret Thatcher’s flagship Right to Buy scheme in the 1980s.

The Government says the new scheme, unveiled by Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron, will “unlock the aspirations of a new generation of house-buyers”.

But the Labour-controlled city council said the scheme would reduce the amount of social housing available in the city, with “devastating implications” for homelessness.

Dr Joe McManners, the council’s executive member for housing, added: “We do not want to borrow money to build new houses on the back of a rental income, only to find them sold off so we can’t pay the money back.”

“We’re also constrained for space to build in Oxford, so it’s difficult to see how we can replace houses that will be sold.”

But Housing Minister Grant Shapps said: “It’s great news for thousands of tenants who have done well for themselves and want to buy the home they live in.”

The city council has about 7,800 council homes. There were two council house sales in 2010-11, bringing in £390,000.

Between 1979-80 and 1997-98 more than 3,550 council homes were sold in Oxford.

The right to buy also applies to some housing association tenants, if their home was part of a housing stock transfer from a council.