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Welsh Government have neither ‘the ambition nor political will’ to solve housing crisis say Plaid

16 Jun 2021 4 minutes Read
First Minister Mark Drakeford AM. Mark Hawkins / Alamy Stock Photo. Right, Demonstration in Nefyn on Saturday, May 1 against the rising issue of second home ownership in the area. By Sion Bryn Evans.

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.”

‘Intervention’

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.”

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Quornby
Quornby
1 month ago

Cornwall County Council has more gumption than the WG who run scared of the English press every time.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Quornby

There are 3 major aspects to this issue along with a number of other subordinate problems. 1) The poverty of many of those wanting a home unable to buy a home, seeking a secure tenancy whether rented from a “public” authority or from private landlord, or 2) the relative wealth of those either buying a second home or relocating away from the major urban centres either into retirement, pre retirement or home working. and 3)the growth of holiday homes displacing permanent residencies. It is quite evident that until recently politicians have tended to let the market figure it out and… Read more »

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

How about regulation, with resource exploitation on it’s heels?

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  j humphrys

Right now we have a new form of resource exploitation, wind farms for instance, which pays little or no wealth into the local communities. It is a new form of colonial exploitation and our governments are OK with it because it comes wrapped up in a shabby green coat ! Had those resources been owned by local enterprises and communities then the loot, the incomes and profits, would have flowed locally rather than into some corporate H.Q in London or somewhere even more remote.

Last edited 1 month ago by hdavies15
Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
1 month ago
Reply to  j humphrys

Yes, we can’t wait for Cymru to develop a real economy before then addressing the housing issue. The latter needs fixing right now.

Shan Morgain
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Agreed. It is difficult to see how to balance the economic advantages of incomers seeking home working in attractive landscapes, eg. in IT, with the need to supply homes for native people.

A radical suggestion might be to designate some regions to welcome incomers, perhaps those already with high incomer ownership, perhaps with a requirement to learn basic Welsh (Holland does this). The sector could subsidise properties for natives. Other regions would designate as primarily protected native areas. A raw suggestion only.

Shan Morgain
1 month ago
Reply to  Shan Morgain

This might offer a partial solution of small, cheap homes reserved for native households. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/jun/16/bristol-to-build-gap-homes-on-garage-sites-to-tackle-housing-crisis

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
1 month ago
Reply to  Shan Morgain

Would they be rented or sold? If sold what happens if those people want to sell them on? If in the future they are resold to rich incomers then that defeats the object and there would need to be a constant supply of new affordable houses.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Shan Morgain

“Primarily protected native areas” or “reservations” as they are & were called by good old USA when they stole all that land off Native Americans !

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Smells a little of apartheid. No thanks, unless the WG is willing to make the whole of the Bro Gymraeg a “primarily protected native area”, in which case, chwarae teg.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

They are not being hysterical. A 5.9% increase amongst a population of 3 million means the impact is likely to be greater than it is on the rest of the UK, which is seeing an average rise of 4%.

The impact is significant upon not just the language, but Welsh communities across Wales.

I know people who fear not just being priced out of their communities, but their country too. Some people in the North West are looking at homes in Wrexham and across the border, although they don’t want to move to England! This situation requires urgent redress.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
1 month ago
Reply to  SundanceKid

It’s going to get worse as England goes down the pan and more and more people want to get out. Expect to see a lot more new-build in the border counties in the foreseeable future.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
1 month ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

Wales needs independence fast before it becomes like Cornwall.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
1 month ago

I have long thought that the Welsh Labour Party are not interested in the Welsh language, at best their hearts are not in it and at worse some items are anti-Welsh. Just look at their website http://www.welshlabour.wales (which as far as I can see is in English only) a total disgrace for a major party that is in power, it is very disappointing and very much like the Welsh Conservatives’ website in terms of being bilingual. Even the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ website is totally bilingual.

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