Language campaigners slam Welsh Gov after it unveils plan to tackle housing crisis
Language campaigners have slammed the Welsh Government after it unveiled its plan to tackle the housing crisis.
Cymdeithas yr Iaith have accused Minister for Climate Change, Julie James MS, who is also responsible for Housing, of being “aimless and inactive” after she promised to kick start a “summer of action”.
According to the Chair of the Welsh language pressure group, Mabli Siriol, the Minister’s statement on the matter “is the latest example of the Government remaining complacent while there is a crisis in the housing market across Wales”.
Plaid Cymru have also branded the plan as “weak” and accused the Welsh Government of “kicking the problem into the long grass”.
In the Senedd today, Minister Julie James will set out what she has called an “ambitious three-pronged approach” to address the impact of second home ownership, which has been blamed for driving up prices and making communities in many rural areas unaffordable.
It will include setting up a pilot area in Wales – to be decided over the summer – where new measures will be trialled before a wider rollout.
The Welsh Government’s three-pronged approach will focus on:
- Support addressing the affordability and availability of housing;
- The introduction of a statutory registration scheme for holiday accommodation;
- Using national and local taxation systems to ensure second home owners make a fair and effective contribution to the communities in which they buy.
‘Summer of inaction’
Mabli Siriol, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, said: “The Government say they intend to lead a “summer of action” to solve the housing crisis, but they seem to instead be planning to spend the summer inactive and aimless.
“We are pleased to see that the Government recognises the serious situation facing our communities and the Welsh language, but real action is needed.
“What the Government is proposing are vague and unambitious commitments, and pilot schemes and consultations that will take years to make a difference — and by then, there is a real danger that it will be too late.
“We welcome the Government’s aim of producing a ‘Welsh Language Communities Housing Plan’ to be published in the autumn in recognition of the fact that the housing crisis is threatening the future of Welsh as a community language.
“But this must be a comprehensive plan that addresses the housing system as a whole and places holiday accommodation, second homes and the housing market firmly under community control through the planning process, rather than just offer a small number of houses that are not really affordable to local people and do little to solve the problem.
“We have the answers on how to solve the housing crisis and strengthen our communities, what is needed is political will.
“The real summer of action kicks off at our rally on the Tryweryn Dam on Saturday, where hundreds of us will be there to demand that the Government take the radical steps needed to ensure a home for everyone in their community, and a secure future for the Welsh language.”
Plaid Cymru Housing Spokesperson Mabon ap Gwynfor MS however said: “This so-called ‘ambitious approach’ to tackle the second homes housing crisis is an exercise in kicking the problem into the long grass without taking the necessary urgent action to deal with the crisis facing our communities.
“These weak measures will not be nearly enough to truly get to grips with a housing emergency that is fast engulfing our communities at an alarming rate. There is nothing here about closing the council tax loophole. There is nothing here about imposing caps on second homes.
“And there is nothing here about bringing numbers of holiday homes into community ownership through public intervention – diverting profits to local developments such as the provision of social housing. In fact, there is no detail just vague plans for more consultation.
“What our communities need is urgent action before it’s too late – not painfully long-drawn-out consultations or half-hearted trials.”