Corbyn pledges to take over empty properties for homeless

Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour would buy 8,000 homes and give councils the power to take over empty properties in order to tackle the growing problem of homelessness in this country.

Speaking on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday, he said a Labour government would ‘immediately purchase 8,000 properties across the country’ to house people who are currently homeless.

Mr Corbyn added he would also require local authorities to ‘build far more’ and give them the power to ‘take over deliberately-kept vacant properties’.

He said ‘there’s something grossly insulting about the idea you build some luxury block’ and ‘deliberately keep it empty knowing that with the property price inflation the investor is going to make 10, 12% a year’.

‘Many people are homeless,’ said the Labour leader. ‘Many people are living in overcrowded accommodation. Many middle class families’ children cannot leave home because they cannot raise the deposit for a private rented flat, [and] have no chance of buying and no chance of a council property.

‘There’s a massive case for intervention into the market in a number of ways,’ he added. ‘One, building council properties. Lifetime tenancies at secure rent. Secondly, regulation of the private rented sector to give much longer tenancies and give that power to the local authority to do it appropriately to their own areas.

‘And thirdly, some kind of government-backed mortgage scheme to help first time buyers to buy something.’

He added the level of home ownership in his own constituency of Islington North has gone down from ‘probably 50 or 60% to less than 30% now’.

Official figures published by the government last week show the number of people sleeping rough has increased by 14% over the last year.

The government’s official annual street count found that on a given night in autumn last year 4,751 people were recorded sleeping rough.

The homelessness charity Crisis warned at the time its own research shows more than 8,000 people are currently sleeping rough, and this number could rise to 15,000 by 2026 if nothing changes.

Also appearing on the Andrew Marr Show, the Cabinet Office minister David Lidington, defended the government’s track record on the issue.

‘We have backed new legislation, which is enabling us with local authorities in partnership to address the reasons why people become homeless, sleep rough, so that we prevent it rather than trying to deal with the problem when it occurs,’ said Mr Lidington.

‘We also, starting this year, a number of government-funded pilot projects in different parts of the country to deal with some of these really complex cases.’


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