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JEREMY CORBYN vowed today to end Britain’s rough-sleeping crisis if elected prime minister by “immediately” purchasing 8,000 homes for people with a history of sleeping on the streets.
The plan, announced today on the Andrew Marr Show, would see deals struck with housing associations to provide homes for the estimated 4,750 people currently sleeping rough on Britain’s streets.
The additional number of homes would accommodate any growth in numbers between now and the next general election.
Labour’s general election manifesto pledged 4,000 homes via a similar scheme.
The doubling of the pledge is likely a response to new figures which show rough-sleeping has risen for the seventh year running.
London has long accounted for the highest proportion of rough-sleepers, but numbers have doubled in north-west England and the figures also show an ongoing spread of the problem in southern England, from cities including Oxford and Peterborough to coastal towns such as Eastbourne and Hastings.
Mr Corbyn vowed that Labour would give councils new powers to seize empty homes, saying: “There is something grossly insulting about the idea you would build some luxury block and deliberately keep it empty.”
There are an estimated 11,000 empty homes across Greater London, and recent figures show half of the city’s new-build posh flats lie unused after developers failed to find buyers.
Mr Corbyn’s announcement comes days after Labour’s ruling national executive slapped down Haringey’s Labour council over its handout plan for private developers.
The Haringey Development Vehicle would see over £2 billion in public land and assets transferred to partially private control and has fuelled a series of fierce selection contests within the local party.
In another success for Labour’s drive to get tough on housing, Labour MP Karen Buck’s private member’s Bill making homes fit for human habitation recently received government backing after previously being rejected.
Labour’s housing policies include a million new homes — half of which to be council-owned — a tougher charter of renters’ rights, and a state-backed mortgage scheme to aid first-time buyers.
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