Sajid Javid in West Bromwich: Labour are the liars, not us
Sajid Javid says he "got the year wrong" when he claimed Labour was behind a massive rise in homelessness – as he accused Jeremy Corbyn's party of peddling "lots of lies" during the election campaign.
The Chancellor came under fire this week for saying that homelessness had reached its peak in 2008 under the last Labour government, and was now "down by almost half".
But he aimed to set the record straight during a campaign visit to West Bromwich, insisting that he simply got his years mixed up.
Mr Javid told the Express & Star: "I got the year wrong. I said homelessness reached its peak under Labour in 2008, when I checked afterwards I saw that it was 2003.
"It was factually correct other than that. I just got the year wrong. When you get something wrong you say it, but the general point I made is absolutely correct."
WATCH: Sajid Javid on Tory chances in West Midlands
The Chancellor described current levels of homelessness as "unacceptable" and said the issue needed "to be tackled", adding: "We need to do more as a country to reduce homelessness and rough sleeping."
He said the Tories would spend £1 billion on addressing the issue. "It requires action on multiple fronts. Labour pretends that to reduce homelessness it is all about money and income," he added.
"Of course that is important, but it is also about other challenges people may have, such as a broken family, mental health issues or drug and alcohol addiction. We have committed to tackling all of these things in our manifesto."
Mr Javid launched a furious attack on Labour's campaign, highlighting a pledge from Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell to save families £7,000 a year as an example of the "lies" Mr Corbyn's party had spread.
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The figure was dismissed as incorrect by a number of fact checking sites and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which said Labour had not taken inflation into account when making its calculations.
"It is a completely fictitious number, which just shows Labour's desperation," Mr Javid said. "There have been lots of Labour lies in the campaign.
"They lie about the things they say they will deliver. They say 'vote Labour and we'll give you free everything'. I think Teddy bears are the only thing they haven't offered yet.
"They will find that the British people are incredibly smart and they know when they are not being told the truth."
The Chancellor visited the Red Lion pub on All Saints Way to meet with West Bromwich East candidate Nicola Richards, and also spent time with West Bromwich West candidate Shaun Bailey at the Balaji Temple in Tividale.
The Tories have targeted the West Midlands at the election, where they hope to take at least nine Labour seats – including the two in West Bromwich for the first time in history.
"Our message to get Brexit done is getting through here," Mr Javid said. "People can see that Labour has no intention of delivering on the referendum result.
"And also our focus on the public services that matter – police, NHS and schools. But also a lot of West Midlands people I meet, they are working people who are supporting businesses like the one we are at today... there is a real creative spirit here.
"In the West Midlands, there is a sense from local people that Labour have always taken them for granted and that they can be used and abused by the Labour Party.
"They have always just assumed that people will always vote Labour.
"This time I think the people of West Bromwich are going to say 'no, we've had enough, we want change'. And that change is from the Conservatives."
Ms Richards, a Dudley councillor who is making her first attempt at becoming an MP, said: "The message from people in West Bromwich East is clear.
"They want Brexit over and done with, they don't want Jeremy Corbyn to be Prime Minister, and they want a local representative like me."