Jeremy Corbyn has attacked the Conservatives over the housing crisis, saying the government treats housing as “an investment for the few, not homes for the many”. And with Labour pledging on 27 April to build a million homes over five years, housing is becoming a pivotal issue in the general election campaign.
So Theresa May won’t want want the nation reminded about the words of a former aide to David Cameron. Last year, David Morton, the architect of David Cameron’s house-building policy, said Jeremy Corbyn could win the next election because of the housing crisis. He said:
This housing crisis, and the related feeling of unfairness, is the one thing Labour under Jeremy Corbyn could use to claw itself back into power.
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The UK is facing a housing crisis. Spiralling house prices, rents, and the selling off of social housing are all contributing to an increase in homelessness. According to figures released in September 2016, 19,000 households were evicted and forced onto the streets by private landlords in a year. That represents a rise of 200% over five years.
But one of the biggest problems for the Tories is that they really don’t have a clue what “affordable” means to the vast majority of people.
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And this is where there is an issue. The government has redefined the definition of affordable housing. An affordable house can cost up to £450,000 – seven times the average UK salary. Furthermore, affordable rent can cost up to 80% of the market rate.
The problem for the Conservative Party is that people aren’t fooled. They know there’s a housing crisis. And they know affordable homes aren’t affordable, for the obvious reason that they simply can’t afford them.
A clear vision
Meanwhile, Corbyn is clear about how he will tackle the housing crisis. He has pledged to invest in “social housing” – with plans to build over a million houses – half of which would be council homes. Meanwhile, the Conservatives are still determined to sell off the housing stock, announcing a continuation of extending the right to buy to housing association tenants.
Corbyn also wants to tackle the out-of-control rental market. He is advocating a “Tenants’ Rights Charter” to stop unreasonable rent rises, and to “bring decent standards to the private rented sector”.
It’s not just housing
While housing should rightly be a key issue in the election campaign, there are many other battlegrounds. Whether it is the NHS, schools, or our punitive benefits system, Labour is presenting alternatives. The party is sending a message that things don’t have to be this way. And if recent polls are to be believed, the message is beginning to hit home.
If even former Tory aides can see the power of Corbyn’s policies, meanwhile, there is real hope this could be the beginning of the end for Theresa May’s government.
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