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Labour's rehashed ‘freedom to buy’ scheme won't solve the housing crisis, campaigners charge

LABOUR’S “freedom to buy” scheme won’t do anything to solve the housing crisis and will leave millions trapped in extortionate and insecure homes, campaigners charged yesterday.

The pledge is a rebrand of the Tories’ existing mortgage guarantee scheme, which allows buyers to find a mortgage with a deposit that is as little as 5 per cent. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer promised to extend the scheme if his party wins the election, claiming it would help over 80,000 young people “get out of their parents’ house.”

But the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that the scheme will only help buyers “if they can afford a bigger mortgage.”

Among other housing-related pledges, Labour promised to build 1.5 million homes if elected. 

They plan to reintroduce housing targets, fast-track planning permissions on brownfield land and prioritise “grey belt” building. 

Labour has said that locals will get “first dibs” on new developments.

Campaigners pointed out that with the party failing to make any commitments on social housing or rental controls, Labour’s pledges do little to tackle the poverty and homelessness faced by millions.

Skyrocketing rents are pushing a third of renters into poverty, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Homeless charity Shelter has reported that a lack of social housing has pushed record numbers of children into temporary accommodation.

London Renters Union spokesperson Jae Vail said: “We can’t end the housing crisis with home ownership alone.

“Without fixing our rigged rental system, millions will remain trapped in extortionate and insecure homes for life,” they said.

“Renters need the next government to introduce rent control, and in the long-run, move us back towards a system with a much greater proportion of public housing.”

Acorn policy officer Anny Cullum said: “80,000 people over the next five years getting help with a deposit is one thing, but we currently have more than 300,000 people homeless, 1.3 million households on growing waiting lists for council homes, and 12 million people stuck in expensive, insecure and sometimes unsafe rental homes.

“Instead of public money being used to keep house prices artificially high, we need a serious and large-scale council homes-building programme, caps to tackle runaway rents and reform of the private rental sector to bring down prices across the board and make sure everyone has a decent, safe and secure place to call home.”

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