Minister pledges to act over housing crisis
The new Minister for Education and the Language has promised that the Government will tackle the housing crisis in the most Welsh-speaking areas.
Jeremy Miles said that action was needed “to ensure that we have Welsh-speaking communities that thrive in the future and that people can afford to live in their communities”.
On Radio Cymru’s Dewi Llwyd radio programme, he confirmed that the Government was considering a report by academic Simon Brooks on the problem of second homes.
He described it as a “complex problem”, with several different factors affecting each other – it would be necessary to look at the “complete picture” to find solutions, he said.
The problem is heightened by the pandemic as thousands of people move from the cities to live or buy holiday homes – one of the most controversial examples is a cottage in Uwchmynydd near Ynys Enlli, which is on sale at auction with a guide price of £500,000.
Yesterday nation.cymru reported how the housing crisis is spiralling out of control.
And today, the BBC has reported three charities saying that, for many working parents in Wales, buying their own home is an “unachievable dream.”
Nearly half the homeowners helped by the Help to Buy scheme in 2020-21 earned at least £40,000.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation said evidence suggested it was “not helping people on lower incomes”.
The Welsh Government said a new phase of the scheme will help those “who most need support”.
Help to Buy is a scheme which allows those eligible to buy a new-build property up to the value of £250,000 with help from the Welsh government by way of a shared equity loan.
Since January 2014, 11,959 properties have been purchased using a Help to Buy loan in Wales.
A recent official report on the scheme found that, over the last three years, the proportion of completed purchases by those on higher incomes had increased.
“During 2020-21, 49% of all homes purchased under the scheme were by those with an average household income of £40,000 to £60,000,” said the report.
Carmen Jackson, co-ordinator of Home-Start’s Helping Working Families project across Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly, said: “Feelings are running high about the current housing situation. Many families feel that home ownership for their family is a completely unachievable dream.
“We have found in some regions, social housing stock is low, which creates demand for rentals, forcing up the prices of rentals which makes investors buying homes as buy-to-lets attractive and making home ownership unrealistic for all but the wealthiest.”
Dr Steffan Evans, policy and research officer at the Bevan Foundation, said: “The latest evidence adds further weight to these concerns. Investing the funds in other programmes such as the Social Housing Grant, which funds the construction of new social housing, could prove to be far more effective use of Welsh government funds.”
Rachel Casey, policy and partnerships officer at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “Even before coronavirus, around 700,000 people in Wales were trapped in poverty. Together with low wages and inadequate benefit levels, high private rents lock people in Wales in poverty.
A Welsh government spokesperson said: “Our Help to Buy Wales scheme plays an important role in helping people get onto the property ladder with three-quarters of the 12,000 homes already delivered through the programme going to first-time buyers.
“Phase 3 of Help to Buy Wales was launched last month and has been designed to ensure the scheme further benefits those who most need support in securing home ownership.”