The Labour Party has promised to provide 8,000 homes to solve the growing homelessness crisis in Britain if Jeremy Corbyn wins power.
Corbyn on Sunday unveiled a new policy to tackle rough sleeping after figures released this week showed the number of people living on the streets is the highest since records began.
Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, the Labour leader said the scale of homelessness in the UK was “disgusting” and “wholly unnecessary”, and said he would fix the issue by making a home available for every rough sleeper as soon as possible if he wins the next election.
The party says it would strike a deal with housing associations so that homes would become available immediately to rough sleepers as soon as they fell vacant. The Labour government would then fund the replacements.
Separately, Labour said it would give local authorities power to take over homes being deliberately kept empty by owners.
Official figures show there were 4,751 people counted or estimated to be sleeping outside in autumn 2017, a 15% rise on the year before and more than double the figure recorded five years ago.
Corbyn added: “There is something grossly insulting about the idea you would build some luxury block and deliberately keep it empty.
“Surely we have to have a social objective and a social priority in our society.”
Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington said there were “a number of different reasons” rough sleeping had gone up, including mental health issues and drug and alcohol problems.
“We have pledged to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminate it by 2027,” he said.
“We have backed new legislation which is enabling us, with local authorities, to address the reasons why people become homeless and sleep rough, so that we prevent it, rather than try to deal with the problem when it occurs.”