Corbyn: Poor families 'socially cleansed' out of cities by Tory housing policies
Poorer families face being "socially cleansed" out of the cities they live in under Tory housing policies, Jeremy Corbyn has claimed.
The Labour leader said people living in the private rented sector were being forced out of areas they have called home for years because of rising costs, and blamed the Tories' failure to regulate landlords.
Mr Corbyn said voting Labour on May 5 was the best way for communities to resist the "onslaught" of Tory cuts which he claimed were being imposed for political rather than economic reasons.
The contests in councils across England, mayoral elections in cities including London and votes to the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales will provide the first real electoral test for Mr Corbyn's leadership, with critics set to step up their attacks if he produces lacklustre results.
Mr Corbyn said the central message of his campaign was tackling the "unfairness of this country" as he warned about the impact of the housing crisis.
He said a visit to Bristol had shown him the effects of rising rents on households in parts of the city, a problem which was being repeated across Britain.
"They are being socially cleansed out of a community they have lived in for many, many years.
"The same is happening in city after city across Britain because we have a Government that is not interested in regulation, not interested in the consequences of deregulation of the private rented sector."
Speaking at the campaign launch in Harlow, Essex, he said: "We have to have a vision on housing and it's Labour that has that vision - they want to sell off, we want to build.
"They want to decant, we want to keep communities together. There is a very big difference between those two philosophies."
The Labour leader put his anti-austerity message at the heart of his pitch to voters.
"The cuts being inflicted on working families, disabled people and the failure to stand up for communities across Britain are a political choice, not an economic necessity," he said.
"By standing up, we can force this Government back."
He added: "David Cameron and George Osborne's policies aren't just deeply unfair - they have failed. They have failed on the deficit, failed on debt, failed on investment, failed on productivity, exports, growth and earnings."
Mr Corbyn stepped up Labour's resistance to the Government's plans to turn all English state schools into academies, taking them out of local authority control.
He said: "The schools budget is being cut for the first time since the 1990s. Class sizes are up, the teacher shortage is getting worse and there is a crisis, in many places, of school places.
"Yet the Conservatives want to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on forcing all schools to become academies. That won't benefit a single child or train a single teacher, it won't ease the anguish of parents worried about school places.
"They are prepared to spend £1 billion on forced academisation of every school, shutting parents out of a say in the running of their schools, when even their own Conservative councillors don't want it.
"Teachers don't want it, parents don't want it, we don't want it - we are going to oppose it all the way."
Mr Corbyn's opponents in the Labour ranks could sharpen their knives if Labour does not gain hundreds of councillors in the English elections.
Asked what he would view as a success, Mr Corbyn would not be drawn on a number, insisting his goal was "Labour people being elected, quite simple".
He insisted he was not concerned about his opponents within the party.
"I have no concerns whatsoever about any of that. My concern is to go out and say to people 'we have got a Government that stands by and watches the steel industry disintegrate while failing to take a public stake'," he said.
"We have a Government that stands by on tax evasion, that stands by and tries to cut support for people with disabilities.
"We are putting out a pretty simple message that Labour is standing up for ordinary people."