Prime Minister’s Questions: Cameron and Corbyn housing clash – BBC News

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Media captionCameron and Corbyn clash over housing

David Cameron is under pressure to guarantee “sink estate” residents can return to their old communities after they have been bulldozed.

Mr Cameron this week announced plans to regenerate 100 estates with some to be demolished.

But at PMQs Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn said council tenants and Right-to-Buy purchasers would be “forced away”.

The PM called Mr Corbyn a “small-c conservative” who wanted people to stay “stuck” in council estates.

The Labour leader said Mr Cameron had not “thought this thing through very carefully”, pointing out that the estates bulldozed would include people who had bought their homes under the Conservatives’ flagship Right-to-Buy policy.

He asked: “Will those people, the leaseholders, will they be guaranteed homes on those rebuilt estates that you are proposing to do?”

The PM said local councils and residents would be involved in the process which would “make sure that tenants get good homes, make sure homeowners get rehoused in new houses”.

Image caption Mr Cameron said 100 housing estates, like these in London, would be improved with the plan

Pressed afterwards about the demolition plans on the BBC’s Daily Politics, Conservative security minister John Hayes said the details of the redevelopment policy had not been announced but he was confident people would be offered “decent” alternative accommodation while construction work was taking place.

Affordable homes row

The leaders’ clash came as the government’s Housing Bill makes its way through Parliament. The legislation offers the Right-to-Buy for housing association tenants and also covers so-called “starter homes” which are aimed at first-time buyers.

Mr Corbyn said these homes would be unaffordable to people on the new National Living Wages living in 98% of council areas.

Rather than building more affordable homes, the government was “branding more homes as affordable”, he added.

Mr Cameron said he and the Labour leader both owned their own homes, asking: “Why won’t we let those 1.3 million (housing association tenants) own their homes?”

Key clips

Media captionCameron and Corbyn clash over housing
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No ‘menial’ jobs for foreign students

With his questions, Angus Robertson, the SNP’s Westminster leader, called for the return of a post-study work visa for foreign students, saying business and colleges in Scotland supported the move.

The PM said such a visa would effectively tell foreign students “it’s okay to stay with a less than graduate job”.

He told MPs: “We don’t need the world’s brightest and best to come here to study and then to do menial labour jobs, which actually that’s not what our immigration system is for.”

Talking tactics

Jeremy Corbyn stuck to one broad subject – housing – for each of his allocated questions, surprising pundits by avoiding the junior doctors’ strike.

He introduced two members of the public – Daryl on whether tenants would be offered replacement housing in the same areas, and Linda, who was worried about her tenancy if she downsizes when she gets older.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn backs striking junior doctors but did not raise the subject at PMQs

The atmosphere in the Commons was noticeably rowdier than some of the Labour leader’s early appearances, when Mr Corbyn called for a different approach reflecting his “new politics”.

The prime minister managed a dig about Labour’s drawn-out reshuffle, which he said was “still going on”, and rounded off his answers by claiming Mr Corbyn “does not believe in Britain”.

Pundits’ verdicts

  • “In truth, the Tory record on home ownership is poor…but worryingly Cameron comfortably bested (Corbyn) on this topic.” Andrew Sparrow, The Guardian
  • “Jeremy Corbyn forensically picked holes in David Cameron’s housing bill, and not before time”. Mikey Smith, The Mirror
  • “Today (Jeremy Corbyn) walked right into a Tory trap on a day when he really should have put Cameron on the rack.” Craig Woodhouse, The Sun
  • “A strong performance from David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions saw him easily brush off Jeremy Corbyn’s attacks over his housing record.” Michael Wilkinson, The Daily Telegraph

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