Welsh Government have neither ‘the ambition nor political will’ to solve housing crisis say Plaid
The Welsh Government have demonstrated “neither the ambition nor the political will” to solve the housing crisis in Wales’ communities, Plaid Cymru have said.
The comments by new Dwyfor-Meirionnydd Senedd Member Mabon ap Gwynfor came before the party will lead a debate in the Senedd on housing policy today.
The First Minister Mark Drakeford has promised to unveil a ‘package of proposals’ to tackle second homes crisis before the end of the month.
“Progress is definitely being made inside the Welsh Government to come forward with a package of proposals,” he said last week.
However Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for housing and planning, Mabon ap Gwynfor said that the Welsh Government had shown a lack of urgency in tackling the problem.
“One symptom of the current housing crisis that we are living in is the proliferation of second homes,” he said.
“People who want to live and work in their chosen areas, often the communities of their upbringing, are being priced out and can’t afford to do so due to rising property prices as a result of this increase in second homes and short term holiday lets.
“And this crisis is not just confined to these communities – it extends beyond rural and tourist areas, people are suffering across Wales. Thousands of people remain locked in a cycle of housing precarity, forced into regular moves, living in substandard rental accommodation, or having to choose between shelter and other necessities such as heating and food. This cannot go on.
“Plaid Cymru wants to see direct interventions to mitigate the crisis, such as changes to planning laws to allow councils to impose a cap on the number of second homes, closing the loophole that allows second homeowners to register their property as ‘businesses’ in order to avoid paying the council tax premium, and the bringing forward of regulations to treble the Land Transaction Tax charge on the purchase of second properties.”
The debate in the Senedd comes after protests were held involving hundreds of people in Gwynedd and Anglesey against being priced out of their own communities.
House prices have jumped again as a result of the Covid pandemic. This month figures showed that the price of the average house had shot up an at annual rate of 5.9% in Wales, outstripping the UK-wide average of 4.0%. In comparison, house prices in London only went up 2%.
Language campaigners have been calling of the Welsh Government to act to solve the housing crisis in Wales which means that people are often not able to buy homes in their own communities.
Cymdeithas yr Iaith intend to hold a ‘Wales is Not for Sale’ rally held at Tryweryn Dam, on Saturday 10th July where they will be challenging the next Welsh Government to introduce a Property Act as a priority.
Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Communities Group, Elin Hywel, said last month that “without such national intervention on the part of the people of Wales, there is no way we can tackle this crisis.”
The ‘Second homes – Developing new policies in Wales’ report, published by Dr Simon Brooks in March, recommended 12 measures including changes to both the taxation and planning systems.
It suggests that regional or local interventions are required and urges all authorities to follow the lead of Gwynedd and raise the tax premium on such properties to 100%.
Other suggestions included requiring planning permission before converting a main residence into a second home or short-term holiday accommodation
Dr Brooks also advises the establishment of a commission to make further recommendations about the future of the Welsh language as a community language.
He concluded: “The likelihood is that structural problems, such as young Welsh speakers leaving rural communities due to a lack of economic opportunities, will deepen.”