Jeremy Corbyn promises rent controls and clampdown on gentrification
Jeremy Corbyn has pledged that a Labour government would give cities the power to introduce rent controls and introduce tough restrictions on gentrification projects, invoking the memory of the Grenfell Tower fire.
In a speech on the final day of Labour’s annual conference in Brighton, Corbyn said that regeneration schemes had often been cover for “social cleansing”.
Councils would have to win a ballot of existing tenants and leaseholders before any redevelopment scheme could take place under a Labour government, he said.
The party would also ensure people who lived on an estate that had been redeveloped could remain after the work was completed, Corbyn promised. “No social cleansing. No jacking up rents. No exorbitant ground rents,” he said.
Corbyn attacked the failures of government and management surrounding the Grenfell Tower fire disaster.
“It was not just the result of failed political decisions, it stands for a broken system that Labour must and will replace,” he said, quoting a poem from one of his favourite writers Ben Okri, written after the deadly fire in the Kensington tower block.
The Labour leader said his party would comprehensively review social housing policy, which the Grenfell Tower inquiry has been criticised for not addressing.
“Tenants are not being listened to,” he said. ”We will insist that every home is fit for human habitation – a proposal this Tory government voted down.”
He also said a Labour government under his leadership would control rents, a promise likely to appeal to many of his younger supporters hit by the housing crisis.
The pledge on rent in Wednesday’s speech goes further than the party’s 2017 manifesto promise, which was to consult on controlling rent rises above inflation, by promising action will be taken.
“Rent controls exist in many cities across the world and I want our cities to have those powers too and tenants to have those protections,” Corbyn told the packed conference hall, watched on stage by more than 30 MPs who had gained seats in the party’s shock success in the general election.
Welcomed on to the stage to chants of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn”, the Labour leader looked confident and cheerful as he spoke of renewed unity in the party, saying Labour was “on the threshold of power”.
Corbyn said his message to the country was that Labour was “ready, ready to tackle inequality, ready to rebuild our NHS and ready to give opportunity to our young people, dignity and security to all older people”.
“We are ready and the Tories are clearly not. They are not strong and they are definitely not stable. They are hanging on by their fingertips.”
Corbyn also attacked the media, saying they were “under instruction from their tax-exile owners to destroy the Labour party”. He said one paper had devoted 14 pages to attacking Labour, and the vote had gone up 14 points. “Never have so many trees died in vain,” he said. “Here is a message to the Daily Mail editor: next time make it 28 pages.”
Corbyn said the shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, had borne the brunt of much of the abuse – a line that led to the conference hall rising to its feet and and singing happy birthday to Abbott.
“She suffered intolerable misogynist and racist abuse,” he said. In a nod to the party rule change on abuse passed on Tuesday, he added: “There can never ever be any excuse for any abuse of anyone. We are not having it, not accepting it, not allowing it.”