Corbyn commits to a million new affordable homes

Labour leader launches election campaign asking to be judged on tackling housing and poverty.

Jeremy Corbyn speaking

Jeremy Corbyn pitches solutions to housing and poverty and being integral to Labour’s election campaign – backing one million new affordable homes and an end to rough sleeping.

“The future is ours to make but we don’t have time to waste,” he says, urging the electorate to judge the next Labour government on whether it has delivered in five years.

As reported by 24housing, Labour’s leaders were last week pushed to put a conference commitment to building 100,000 social-rented council homes a year in the manifesto.

In a transcript released ahead of a campaign launch address, due in Telford today (6th Nov), Corbyn commits to:

  • A million new affordable homes
  • An end to rough sleeping
  • An end to in-work poverty
  • An end to food-bank use
  • A Green Industrial Revolution to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and slash carbon emissions

Citing himself as a leader who “seeks power to share power”, Corbyn says: “The politics I stand for is about sharing power and wealth with people who don’t have a lot of money and don’t have friends in high places,” and it is those people that he will “champion” to “bring about real change”.

To do that, Corbyn argues a good leader must “hold open the door for others to walk through because everyone has a contribution to make”.

He says: “The future is ours to make. I want a Labour government to be judged by whether it changes people’s lives for the better after five years. Judge us on the real change we deliver, the concrete improvements to the lives of millions.

“Judge us on whether we’ve built a million genuinely affordable homes so that decent and secure housing is within the reach of everybody.

“Judge us on whether in-work poverty still exists in five years’ time

“Judge us on whether people are still sleeping rough after five years of a Labour government.

“Judge us on whether proud women and men are still having to depend on food banks five years into a Labour government

“Judge us on whether we’ve unleashed a Green Industrial Revolution, created hundreds of thousands of green energy jobs in the communities that need them most, and significantly reduced our greenhouse emissions.

“We don’t have any time to waste.”

Labour has been challenged to put “radical proposals” for housing in its election manifesto – by its own side.

In an open letter, Labour Campaign for Council Housing urges the party leadership to adopt commitments to build 100,000 social-rented council homes a year, ringfence £10bn for council housing, and abolish Right To Buy.

These policy suggestions were put forward at Labour’s annual conference in September in a motion that was approved by party and trade-union delegates.

Labour is not strictly bound by policy passed at conference.

A ‘Clause V’ meeting – usually held within the first two weeks of an election being called – decides which parts of the party programme are included in the manifesto.

At conference, delegates unanimously backed a bid to build 155,000 social-rent homes a year, with the extent of support seen as a strong indication of adoption – driven by the report from Shelter’s social-housing commission published in January, which identified more than three million new social homes as needed over the next 20 years.

The 33-point motion specified that at least 100,000 of the 155,000 are council homes, and building would begin with “immediate effect” on Labour taking office.

And the motion also made provision a housing grant of at least £10bn a year, ring fenced for delivering 100,000 social-rented council homes to be announced at the first Budget of a new Labour government.

Councils would also get the “powers and resources” to take housing associations under direct control.

At conference, Jamie Sweeney of the Labour Campaign for Council Housing – which led the campaign for the motion – said: “This is a massive leap forward for the Labour Party, and we look forward to campaigning in the next general election with policies that will solve the housing crisis.”

Jeremy Corbyn had previously pledged Labour to adopt “the largest housebuilding programme in a generation”.

Conference also heard the party urged to make housing a human right, with delegates told: “A moral society does not allow people to die on the streets.”

Labour will also consider calls for using the Localism Act to reopen the 2012 debt settlement imposed on councils and cut the ‘debt’ in line with projected losses of rental income over the course of their 30-year business plans.

According to Labour’s figures, between 1994/5 and 2008/9, council tenants paid £31bn more in rent than was received by councils in annual ‘allowances’.

Conference heard that the four-year rent cut and a fourfold increase in Right To Buy sales mean councils are collecting hundreds of million pounds less rent than projected in the 2012 settlement.

This would be backed by Labour committing to cancelling all HRA debt held by the Public Works Loans Board, when in government.

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