Corbyn: Councils key to solving housing crisis

There is "no answer" to the housing crisis that does not start with a new council housebuilding programme, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said as his party committed to building 100,000 council and housing association properties a year by 2020.

In his speech to the Labour conference in Brighton, Corbyn said housing policy is a top priority as in the last parliament at least half a million fewer homes were built than were needed, private rents were "out of control", a third of private rented housing did not meet basic health and safety standards and homeownership became a "distant dream" for the majority of young people.

"Every mainstream economist will tell you that with interest rates so low now is the time for public investment in our infrastructure," he said.

"Investment in council housing, and for affordable homes to rent and to buy."

Corbyn added that shadow housing secretary John Healey's plan to build at least 100,000 local authority and housing homes with "modest" public investment would generate a profit for the taxpayer by driving down the housing benefit bill as the cost of renting falls.

Healey announced to the conference that Peter Redfern, chief executive of construction company Taylor Wimpey, will carry out an independent review of home ownership.

"More than four in five of us aspire to own our own home," he said.

"Yet home ownership has fallen each and every year over the last five years - now at the lowest level for nearly three decades. And for those under 35, it's down by over a fifth.

"George Osborne was right to describe this decline in home ownership as a 'tragedy'. But it's happening on his watch."

The review will report in the summer.

"Enabling more British people to own their own homes is fundamental to creating a flourishing society and is an issue that has a profound impact on the country," Redfern said.

"This is not about politics; it affects us all. I feel strongly that home ownership has never reached the right level in our society."

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