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Jeremy Corbyn set to visit Harlow

Politics / Thu 27th Apr 2017 at 07:39am

LABOUR is set to renew its attack on the government’s housebuilding record, with Jeremy Corbyn using a campaign trip to Essex to say Theresa May is presiding over a crisis of “runaway rents and unaffordable housing”.

The Labour leader is due to visit Harlow, traditionally a bellwether general election seat, to pledge that if he was in government he would have 500,000 new homes built, half of them for council rent reports The Guardian.

The party has released research that it says shows Labour-run councils have built on average around 900 more new homes between 2010 and 2016 than their Conservative counterparts.

The statistics, commissioned by the party from the Commons library, show that Labour-led councils averaged 2,577 new homes each, against 1,679 for Conservative-run authorities and 1,660 for the Liberal Democrats.

In comments to be made in Harlow and released in advance of his visit, Corbyn says: “Britain faces a housing crisis, with runaway rents and unaffordable housing. The system is rigged, with housing treated as an investment for the few, not homes for the many.”

With levels of homebuilding at the lowest levels since the 1920s, the Conservatives “will never fix the housing crisis, which is holding so many people back”, he will say.

The party has also released a report by the shadow housing minister, John Healey, highlighting what it says are innovative efforts by Labour-led councils on housing.

It profiles 20 Labour-led councils involved in policies to build homes for first-time buyers and social rent, tackle homelessness and build energy-efficient housing.

“Labour doesn’t just build more, we build better too,” Healey said of the findings. “Labour councils across the country are pulling out all the stops to help people with the day-to-day housing pressures they face.”

In response to the Labour claims, the housing minister, Gavin Barwell, said the number of homes on which construction had begun had risen by 75% since 2010.

He said that during the recession when Labour was in power, housebuilding had fallen to the lowest peacetime levels since the 1920s. “Think about what would happen under Corbyn,” he said.

Corbyn’s visit and the focus on Labour local authorities’ record is also connected to the other, more imminent election taking place – the local polls on 4 May.

Labour has been forecast to lose somewhere close to 125 councillors across England, Scotland and Wales. This would be a third consecutive net loss for the party, an unprecedented run for an opposition party in local elections.

Essex county council, which currently has a heavy Conservative majority, is among the English local authorities up for re-election on 4 May.

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