Jeremy Corbyn laid into the Tory Government today (politely, of course!) for doing nothing to alleviate the housing crisis.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQ), Corbyn pointed out that the Prime Minister had voted against a Labour amendment stating that all homes rented out privately should be fit for human habitation. He also quoted a Treasury estimate that it had been losing half a billion pounds a year in tax which private landlords should have been paying but which they had not. He said this record showed that the Government should intervene in the rented housing market – on the side of tenants and those in housing need.
Prime Minister Theresa May failed to deal with Jeremy Corbyn’s question, saying only that Councils should inspect homes that were being privately rented out and there was funding available for them to do this. She did make one concession, though, which is to promise to respond to calls to expect women in refuges from the housing benefit cap.
•Shortly after Jeremy Corbyn had questioned the Prime Minister, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Debbie Abrahams highlighted government figures showing that £1.9 billion has been overpaid in housing benefit. She blamed the scandal on government policy, pointing out that cuts in funding to local government have left Councils unable to monitor housing benefit properly. Extra responsibilities which central government has piled on local authorities – such as calculating Universal Credit and benefit caps – have left Councils struggling to cope.
Debbie Abrahams condemned the situation as a waste of money, as Councils which can’t cope with their workload are having to fund staff to correct mistakes, and for creating anxiety among those who have been overpaid.
Tenants claiming housing benefit are getting the problems, whereas private landlords are receiving what amounts to government subsidy, she claimed, saying, “With £9.3 billion of Housing Benefit already going to private landlords, the idea that Tory incompetence could be further lining their pockets with overpayments is of serious concern.”