Latest Public Sector News

10.08.15

Corbyn pledges to reverse housing crisis through radical systemic reboot

Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn MP has proposed a ‘radical reboot’ of housebuilding by giving councils the tools to build and provide homes in order to meet their local affordable housing demands.

In his housing manifesto, released last week, Corbyn said the most efficient way of achieving at least 240,000 new yearly homes is by allowing councils to build houses themselves.

He claimed that “too many people” are unable to buy their own homes due to soaring rents directly linked to insufficient affordable housing.

“It has become clear that when housing provision is left purely to market forces, most of our young people simply cannot afford to get a foot on the rung of the market’s so-called housing ladder,” he said.

He outlined that for every £1 spent on housing construction an extra £2.09 is generated. As a result, he would promote major council-funded and energy-efficient building projects to cut back on “exorbitant rents” if he were prime minister. To support these projects with low interest rates, he pitched the idea of a National Investment Bank, designed to promote infrastructure upgrades.

Corbyn described the current housing situation as at “crisis point”, with families being shoved from council houses to B&B to hostels “hundreds of miles away from support networks and denied stability and security”.

“Council homes are emptied, regenerated and sold at prices well out of the reach of normal people, causing the social cleansing of our cities.”

In a truly ‘radical’ move, Corbyn – the frontrunner for the leadership, according to some polls – also vowed to scrap the “pernicious” bedroom tax and benefit cap. The ambitious pledge is likely to win over a large chunk of social housing tenants, as the controversial tax causes many of them to be depressed, stressed, anxious and hungry.

He called instead for a rent cap which, in turn, should also save on housing benefit costs – though the LGA would probably argue that rent caps must accompany wide-scale housebuilding efforts lest the councils be left to “mend additional financial gaps”.

The Labour MP also promised to regulate private landlords to ensure decent housing conditions and lower rents in the sector – but on par with the local average earning levels.

Contender Andy Burnham set out similar plans in his manifesto last week – though in significantly less detail – by also pledging to reintroduce councils to housebuilding by lifting borrowing caps.

The vote for Labour leadership will begin on 14 August, with the results announced on 12 September. The other candidates are Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.

Top image c. Niall Carson, PA Images

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