STEPHEN HEPBURN: New housing is top priority for Labour

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn

Home is where the heart is goes the famous old saying and it breaks my heart so many people can’t now afford a home of their own or find a decent place to rent at a fair price.

David Cameron’s quit to earn another fortune and I bet my bottom dollar a former Prime Minister who lectured everybody else on the need to tighten their belts, and endure a Conservative austerity this Little Lord Fauntleroy never applied to himself, will soon be extending his property portfolio.

And what will rightly infuriate people most is that after six years in power, the Tory track record on housing is one of total failure.

Home ownership is down, with more than 300,000 fewer young homeowners since 2010. Rough sleeping has doubled. Private rents have rocketed. Housing benefit costs have soared. Local authorities are denied money to build new council houses. Construction is at record lows.

So with all these failings in mind, it came as no surprise when one-time Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, a Liberal Democrat who let the Tories walk all over him during his five years as their nodding dog, revealed Cameron and the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, refused to build more council houses because it would - wait for it - “create Labour voters”.

Hammering desperate families to gain political points tells you everything you need to know about the Tories and whose side they are on.

Subsidising so-called “starter homes” costing up to £450,000 for a wealthy few while denying more deserving people a council house is Tory class war on working Britons.

If the scale of Tory failure on home ownership over the last five years is repeated over the next five, then fewer than one in four Under-35’s will own a home by 2020.

I promise you Labour would make housing a top priority. Jeremy Corbyn, who is speaking in Jarrow in a few weeks, pledges to build ONE MILLION new homes over five years including at least 500,000 council houses.

We’ll also introduce rent controls, secure tenancies and a better buyer scheme so nobody is left out.

Clegg deserves no credit for spilling the beans now when he went along for the ride with the Tories as long as the chauffeur-driven Jag was at the end of a phone.

The former Lib Dem leader opted not to stand up to the Tories, biting his tongue and saying nothing against their relentless attacks on the very people who need help most.

He was, never forget, part of a ConDem Government that raised tuition fees, despite saying he wouldn’t. He stood toe to toe with Tories as they brought in the hated Bedroom Tax, changes to council tax support and cruel disability assessments which have put people who cannot work on lesser benefits.

But his presence at the heart of a Tory-dominated regime gives us a damning picture on what went on. And the picture is appalling.

Theresa May was part of the racket for six years as Home Secretary. She was at the Cabinet table when families were denied homes and today as Prime Minister she is the champion of the worst rip-off private landlords.

Our area, our region and our country is being let down by a Conservative Government failing badly on housing just as it is on the NHS and decent jobs.

Politics is about choices and the Tories make the wrong choices.

We don’t need changing Tory faces. We need a new Government. A Labour Government.