Claim that locals are missing out on housing despite ‘connection with Gwynedd’ policy
Gareth Wyn Williams, local democracy reporter
Some locals are continuing to miss out on social housing despite the introduction of a new policy designed to prioritise those with strong links to Gwynedd, a councillor has claimed.
Adopted by the council’s cabinet in 2019, the new housing policy was designed to ensure that local people are offered greater preference when applying for a place on the register to obtain a social home.
At the time it was stressed that while the most urgent of cases should be looked at first, it was designed to strengthen the hand of those with stronger community links while continuing to meet legal obligations.
But one opposition councillor has called the effectiveness of this policy into question, claiming that local families have continued to miss out at the expense of others with no obvious links with his village.
Cllr Gareth Williams, who represents the Botwnnog ward as a Llais Gwynedd member on Gwynedd Council, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “When the policy was adopted I was under the impression that the purpose of the new banding system was to prioritise local families who were on the waiting list.
“But by now I feel that both councillors and members of the public have been misled.
“Unfortunately it hasn’t just happened in Botwnnog and other councillors have also told me that incomers from outside the county, and indeed Wales, seem to have been given priority over people with long-standing connections.
“This shouldn’t happen. We’re facing a dire situation in terms of second homes, which has helped drive house prices well out of the reach of many local people.
“I feel it’s even more imperitive that we get things right in rural wards, such as mine, as unlike the bigger towns social homes just don’t become available very often.
“What chance is there for the next generation to secure housing in their own communities when even the council, which usually prides itself in putting the people of Gwynedd first, lets them down like this?”
The Gwynedd Common Housing Register Partnership was established in 2012 and administered by Gwynedd Council’s Housing Options Team on behalf of Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd, Grŵp Cynefin and North Wales Housing.
Previously there were four separate housing registers and five different allocation policies, which the authority admitted could cause confusion and was an “unsatisfactory situation.”
As per the new policy, those who have resided in Gwynedd for five years or more are usually considered as ‘local’, but those who are in urgent need are still given overall priority.
In response, a Gwynedd Council spokesperson said: “A new Common Housing Allocation Policy was introduced in Gwynedd last year which aims to put more emphasis on prioritising local people who need housing.
“Since being introduced, over 96% of social housing has been let to applicants with a Gwynedd connection.
“All housing applications are considered in accordance with the Housing Allocation Policy which is administered by the council in partnership with local housing associations.
“The policy ensures that applications are prioritised on the basis of a combination of housing need and connection with Gwynedd.
“Priority is given to applicants within the relevant community council area, before consideration is then given to applicants with a housing need with a Gwynedd connection.”