Jeremy Corbyn has said it is “ridiculous” to suggest young people cannot afford to buy a house because they are spending too much money on avocados, sandwiches or coffee.
The Labour leader said the idea was “slightly off kilter”, following Communities Secretary Sajid Javid who this week warned that the housing crisis risked creating a “rootless generation”.
Mr Corbyn spoke out after estate agent Strutt and Parker reportedly suggested renting millennials could accumulate the £64,000 needed for an average London deposit, after help from parents, within five years by making changes to their lifestyles such as making sandwiches at home rather than buying them in shops.
After a speech to party members in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, Mr Corbyn told the Press Association: “the idea you can conflate the price of sandwiches to the extortions of the housing market is slightly out of kilter here.
“We have a lot of young people who work really hard, have to rent in the private rented sector, and are spending half, even more, of their take home pay on rent, cannot save to buy, (are) never going to be able to access social housing unless they become incredibly needy. So, they have a life ahead of them in which they are going to pay far more for their housing than any previous generation did.
“Why? Because we haven’t built enough houses and we have a largely unregulated private rented sector.
“And so we’re committed to housebuilding and regulation in order to give people reasonable cost housing.
“We have a housing crisis that needs to be addressed, to reduce the whole thing to people drinking cappuccino or very healthy food like avocados is frankly ridiculous.
“I wish people to enjoy their coffee, their healthy eating, but I also wish them to enjoy security in housing.”
Mr Javid said he rejected the resistance to new development, which came mostly from “baby boomers who have long since paid off their own mortgage” and who claim that housing problems were caused by an “over-entitled” millennial generation spending their cash on “nights out and smashed avocados” rather than saving for a home.
Mr Javid said: “They don’t want the world handed to them on a plate. They want simple fairness, moral justice, the opportunity to play by the same rules enjoyed by those who came before them.”
The Communities Secretary and Labour have found unlikely common ground in asking for councils to be allowed to borrow money to fund a massive housebuilding programme.
But it remains to be seen if Chancellor Philip Hammond will bow to the pressure in next week’s Budget.
In his pre-Budget speech, Mr Corbyn claimed millions of low-paid workers will fare far worse than expected under the National Living Wage (NLW) due to sluggish pay rises across the economy.
He told his party’s eastern regional conference on Saturday that the link between NLW rate increases and average earnings means that more than three million people could be paid £5,000 less a year by the end of the decade than was forecast.
Mr Corbyn is saying slower economic growth could see it at £8.25 an hour by 2020, rather than the £9.30 an hour originally expected.