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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Labour now at odds on housing policy

Jeremy Corbyn decision to raise the issue of housing at yesterday's Prime Minister's question time was welcome, but did he reflect the view of his own front bench in his questioning.

The new Labour leader quoted a member of the public named “Stephen” who works for a housing association who apparently said the measure would lead to job losses, less funding for repairs and worse housing conditions.

However, according to Inside Housing, a spokesperson for John Healey, who was appointed shadow housing minister on Monday, told them that the party would not seek to oppose the policy in parliament:

Mr Healey described the decision to tear up the social housing rent formula as a “broken promise from the government” but his office later confirmed Labour would seek to amend the policy rather than oppose it.

When pressed on why it would not oppose it, Mr Healey’s office referred Inside Housing to a speech by former shadow work and pensions secretary Stephen Timms in July saying the rent cut would “save 1.2 million households £700 a year”.

Labour previously tabled amendments to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill which would force the government to produce a plan within 12 months to offset the impact of the rent cut to social landlords.

Mr Healey also said the government was “taking its gloves off” towards housing associations and they “must not give any excuse” for the government to attack their house building records.

“Housing associations must continue to do all they can to offer more homes,” he added.

So even at PMQs, Corbyn cannot get it right. Or are we to expect him to overrule his own front bench?
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