Jeremy Corbyn once again used Prime Minister’s Questions to attack the government’s record on housing.
He opened up debate about homelessness, evictions in the private rented sector and the upcoming Bill from Karen Buck on making sure homes are fit for human habitation.
We have the full exchange below.
Jeremy Corbyn: “Since this government came to power, homelessness is up by 50%, rough sleeping has doubled. Homelessness and rough sleeping has risen every year since 2010. Will the PM pledge that 2018 will be the year that homelessness goes down?”
Theresa May: “Across this house, we don’t want to see anyone who is homeless or anyone who is sleeping rough on the streets. That is why the government is putting £500m into prevention of homelessness, it is why we backed the bill brought forward by Bob Blackman.
“It is why we have ensured that we have put into place a number of projects to deal with the issue of rough sleeping. But I have to say when we look at the issue of housing, we need to look at ensuring that there are more homes available, that there is more support to get into those homes.
“That is why in the Budget, the chancellor set out a range of ways in which we can help people to ensure people have a roof over their heads. Unlike Labour, where housebuilding went down by 45%, where the number of homes bought and sold went down 40% and social housing went down by 400,000.”
Corbyn: “The last Labour government cut homelessness by two thirds during its time in office. When Labour left office the number of children in temporary accommodation was a lot less than it is now.
“I asked the prime minister for a pledge to reduce the number of homeless next year. The pledge was not forthcoming.
“128,000 children will spend Christmas without a home to call their own – 60% up from 2010. It is too late for this Christmas, but will the prime minister promise that by Christmas 2018, fewer children will be without a home to call their own?”
May: “We of course want every child to wake up in their own home, particularly at Christmas. It is important for people to know they can keep a roof over their heads, even in the most desperate circumstances.
“That is why we are making sure councils can place families in a broader range of homes if they fall into these circumstances. So since 2011, councils have been able to place families into private accommodation, so they can get a suitable place sooner.
“We are currently implementing the Homelessness Reduction Act. We are making sure families at risk can get help before they are presenting as homeless.
“I have been very clear, as I was a few weeks ago, that this government is going to be a government that puts a clear focus on housing, on building the homes this country needs, on ensuring people are getting help to get into those homes and also on acting to prevent homelessness before it happens.
“That is what we are doing and that is what will make a real difference to peoples lives.”
Corbyn: “The sad reality is that one in 100 children are homeless in this country. It is a national disgrace and it is getting worse.
“For all she says about the PRS, can I just quote from a letter I received from Rachael this week? She says: ‘I have a knot in my stomach every New Year period when we are due to sign a new tenancy agreement. After renting the same flat for 10 years, never being in arrears and keeping the property in good order, we were given orders to quit out of the blue.’
“Will the prime minister help people like Rachael and back secure three year tenancies for all private renters?”
May: “I think he was present when the Budget was given to this chamber and that is why we said we are looking at ways in which we can encourage longer term tenancies.
“What is important is that we give people the ability to support that is right for them. That is why we are dealing with this issue of longer term tenancies. But he talks about people renting.
“But his response to renting is to bring in rent controls. Rent controls have never worked and result in fewer homes being available for people who want to rent and have a roof over their head.
“It is not just me that says Labour Party policy won’t help people who are renting, Shelter says that it won’t help those who are renting.”
Corbyn: “Evictions by private landlords have quadrupled since 2010. There is not security in the PRS and the prime minister well knows it.
“She also promised one for one replacements on council housing sold off through Right to Buy. But just one in five have been replaced.
“Hundreds of thousands of people are on housing waiting lists. Will the PM apologise for what she said and tell the house when she will be delivering these one for one replacement?”
May: “We are increasing the flexibility for councils to actually build homes. We have put more money into affordable housing.
“He talks about Right to Buy but I have to say what a contrast. We want to give people the opportunity to buy their own home, the Labour Party would take that opportunity away from them. What do we see on housing?
“The shadow housing minister recently said that fewer people owning their own home is not such a bad thing.
“Well I have to say what he is offering on housing, if you live in a council home he will take away your Right to Buy, if you are looking to rent Shelter says his policies will harm you and his shadow housing minister doesn’t want people to own their own home.
“It is only the Conservatives that will deliver the homes this country needs.”
Corbyn: “If only it were true. Under the Tories, home ownership has fallen by 200,000. Under Labour it rose by 1m. 40% of all council homes sold through Right to Buy are now in the PRS.
“The latest figures show a quarter of all private rented homes are not up to decent standards. Meaning many families are living with damp, that are not secure or very badly insulated. Does the PM support homes being fit for human habitation?”
May: “Of course we want homes fit for human habitation. Can I just remind him that the number of homes failing to meet the Decent Homes Standard is down by 49% since the peak under the Labour government.
“While I am talking about the record of the Labour government, statutory homelessness peaked under the Labour government and is down by over 50% since then. It is this government that is delivering for people on housing.”
Corbyn: “I would remind the PM that under Labour a million homes were brought up to Decent Homes Standard. I would also assume from what she has said that she will be here on the 19th January to support Karen Buck’s Bill to make homes fit for human habitation.
“When it comes to housing, this government has been an absolute disgrace.
“After seven years, more people are living on the streets, more people in temporary accommodation, more families in homes not fit for human habitation and fewer people owning their own home.
“When is this government going to get out o the pockets of property speculators and rogue landlords and get on the side of tenants and people without a home of their own this Christmas?”
May: “Under Labour, housebuilding down, social housing down. I’ll tell him one thing did go up under Labour, the number of people on the social housing waiting list. 1.74m people on the waiting list under the Labour government.
“We have delivered over 346,000 new affordable homes since 2010. More affordable homes are being delivered in the last seven years than in the previous seven years under a Labour government.
“We are building more homes, we saw 217,000 more homes being delivered – apart from one year that is a record for more than 30 years.
“It is the Conservatives that are doing what is necessary. Labour would produce failure once again.”