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Labour 2017: Corbyn pledges end to borrowing restrictions and 'piecemeal' devolution

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A Labour government would lift restrictions on council borrowing for investment in housing, change the perception of the planning process as a “neo-Stalinist” limitation on the free market and end the government’s “piecemeal” approach to devolution, party leader Jeremy Corbyn has said.

Speaking at the Association of Labour Councillors annual reception at the Labour Party conference in Brighton last night, Mr Corbyn also described the government’s approach to adult social care as “disgraceful” and reiterated Labour’s commitment to establishing a ‘national care service’.

corbyn at alc 2017 edit

corbyn at alc 2017 edit

Mr Corbyn said there would be no solution to the housing crisis without the “complete support, participation and involvement” of local government, but added that a lack of funding and restrictions on borrowing against housing revenue accounts limits action.

He said: “I am not against the idea of houses for purchase by people for owner occupation. I think that is part of the solution but in reality the housing crisis across this country can only be dealt with by the construction of a large number of council houses with permanent tenancies and a social affordable rent.

“As we develop a greater detail of our housing policy I look forward to working with [local government] on putting those policies forward which hopefully then come up to conference next year, or if there is an election sooner be in our manifesto whenever that election takes place.”

Mr Corbyn said a Labour government would understand planning is not “a dirty word”.

He added: “Planning at its best improves and supports communities, protects open spaces and the environment and improves the environment for hard pressed communities often in densely populated inner city areas.

“I want us to approach planning on the idea that it is something good for the community as a whole rather than the way the media mostly represent planning as some king of oppressive neo-Stalinist activity that stops the free market doing whatever it wants to do.”

Mr Corbyn reiterated claims that the government agreed a deal with Surrey CC in February over adult social care funding in order to prevent the council holding a referendum on a 15% hike in council tax.

He said: “I thank the ALC for support in helping to challenge the disgraceful moves [the government] were making with the sweetheart deal with Surrey while at the same time underfunding social care in every other part of the county. We will work with you to put the detail together on a national care service.”

Mr Corbyn said he wanted to work with councillors to establish a “local government relationship for the future” and called for “ideas” on “how we take forward devolution”.

He added: “Piecemeal devolution to certain parts of the country is not devolution of the sort that we would have ever envisaged as a party.

“We want to look at things around the influence of the national investment bank and the regional investment banks that go with it… but also the role local government can play in that and in promoting investment and economic development in sustainable jobs and industry in an environmentally friendly way. Local government has the experience and the capability to do that.”

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