Pickles: 'House homeless in France'
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities
Pickles suspends Home Information Packs 'with immediate effect'
Eric Pickles has claimed that the country's housing crisis can be solved by sending homeless families to France.
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government was reacting to a new report that has revealed France currently has record numbers of empty properties.
According to Paris-based think tank Politique Échange, the country has around six million vacant homes.
Pickles said: "We have a housing crisis yet nobody wants to think outside the box. The French have millions of houses available. Why can't we tap into this market?"
But housing charities have slammed the suggestion. Shelter's Campbell Robb said the plan was "ridiculous and obscene".
Mr Robb said: "If Mr Pickles really thinks that uprooting British families and packing them off to another country is a way of dealing with the housing crisis then he needs his head examined."
A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: "Plans are very much on the drawing board at this stage. We wouldn't be expecting to just shift families to France at the drop of a hat. We've already considered providing French lessons to those that have to make the move. But it should also be noted that there are plenty of other countries with a housing surplus. Finland, Chile and Vietnam also currently have vast amounts of homes available."
Pickles made the comments at a homeless hostel in Kent that he was helping to close.
The minister added: "France is a fine country. I anticipate that there will be those on the Left who will disapprove of the suggestion, and at least some of that negativity will be xenophobia."
*This was an April Fool.