JEREMY CORBYN AND MATT RODDA AT LAUNCHPAD
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn MP visited Launchpad, Reading's charity for the homeless with Matt Rodda, the recently elected MP for Reading East.
Launchpad is a charity which helps some of Reading's most vulnerable and disadvantaged people turn their lives around. The charity provides housing support; giving assistance to 116 people at a time in secure accommodation, in addition to a floating support service to help prevent homelessness. They also offer a drop-in service three times a week to give advice, support and assistance.
Matt accompanied Jeremy, who was on a whistle-stop visit to Reading en-route to a rally in Milton Keynes – an area where Jeremy Corbyn had not been able to hold a rally during the recent General Election campaign. After a brief tour of the charity's office and support facilities in Merchant's Place, Jeremy and Matt spent time with staff to discuss the reality of the homelessness and housing crisis in Reading
On the issue of homelessness and social housing in Reading, Jeremy said:
“There is a huge problem in that private sector developments are unaffordable for local people, unaffordable for people in housing need and, in some cases, are bought off-plan and kept empty in order just to cash in on the capital value rise that happens with the rise in house prices. We have to empower local authorities to ensure that a proportion of all new developments are genuinely affordable at local housing allowance rates so that people can rent them, and that local authorities are properly funded and allowed to develop the council houses they need.
“Reading [Council] wanted to build 1,000 council houses; George Osborne stopped them from doing that when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. I want the Council to be given the power to build the housing that's necessary, to be given the planning powers to ensure that all new housing developments have least half of them that are genuinely affordable, and that we have a properly regulated private rented sector so that there are longer tenancies and demand a requirement on the Landlord to provide decent housing conditions - otherwise with the coming of CrossRail and the changes that are happening in Reading, what we don't want is the poorest, most vulnerable people to suffer and be driven out of this town. I support what Reading Council are trying to do, it [the town] needs a Government that supports Reading Council.”
Referring to Matt's election to the Reading East seat a week after the campaign rally which Jeremy attended at the Rivermead Leisure Centre in Reading, Jeremy said:
“I was very proud that Matt won; I was delighted to be at the rally held here just before the election. Matt does a great job and is a great MP; we're gonna be campaigning on investment, on transport, on housing - all the issues that are so crucial to the people of Reading and the Thames Valley. I could see that he was going to win when I came here during the campaign because he has that communication with the local people; he has that experience of the area, and also there was that utter determination amongst Labour voters not to be told what to do by some of our national media and they voted Labour – and we are gonna win again.
“We can keep gaining support across the South. We're campaigning all over because young people need that chance - and local authorities need the power to deal with the housing crisis. It can't be right in 21st century Britain - and the fifth richest country in the world – that we tolerate street homelessness; it's not right and it's not necessary.”
Speaking about Jeremy's decision to visit Reading East and in particular, take interest in the work Launchpad do in the town, he said:
“I'm extremely grateful to Jeremy coming to Launchpad today. It is evident that we have a real housing crisis and homelessness issue here in Reading which has risen by over 700% in recent years."
“Having a secure roof over your head is a basic human right, and Reading desperately needs homes that are genuinely affordable. As Labour MP for Reading East I shall be challenging the Government on its decisions to limit funding available to the borough Council and other local councils.”