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Welsh ministers failed to use powers to ensure accommodation needs for Gypsies and Travellers were met – Ombudsman

04 Apr 2024 5 minute read
One of Conwy’s Traveller sites

Emily Price

The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales has found that the Welsh Government failed to use its powers to ensure that two local authorities were taking action to meet the need for accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers.

In a Public Interest report published today (April 4) the Ombudsman upheld the complaints made by two families who have been waiting for site provision in the areas they live.

Local authorities have a duty to meet the need for accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers.

They are required to identify and assess the need in their area and submit a plan to Welsh Government for its approval.

The investigation found that the Welsh Government had failed to use its powers to ensure that Conwy County Borough Council and Denbighshire County Council were taking action as required by the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

The Ombudsman said this caused frustration and distress to the two families whose accommodation needs remain unmet.

It is also likely that others in the community have been affected, or could be affected, by this failure – the report said.


The report also found that the complaint was not dealt with in accordance with Welsh Government policy.

The complaint was wrongly classified and the time taken to inform the families that their complaint was not being considered was excessive.

It has been recommended that the Welsh Government apologises for the impact on the families and offer them a payment of £1,000 each in recognition of the injustice caused to them.

The report also advised that the Welsh Government improves the way the assessment and provision of sites are monitored and carried out.

The Ombudsman stated: “I also recommended that Welsh Government should inform local authorities of the requirement to continue to take steps to meet need in approved Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessments whilst updated Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessments are being assessed, determine whether to approve the revised Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessments submitted by local authorities and set out a plan for how they will review the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment process and monitoring arrangements.

“In respect of complaint handling, I recommended that Welsh Government should remind staff who deal with complaints of the importance of responding in a timely manner and ensure that all staff who deal with complaints receive training on its complaints policy and how it should be applied.”

The Welsh Government has agreed to carry out these recommendations.


Travelling Ahead, the all-Wales Advocacy Service working with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities issued a statement on behalf of the two families who wished to remain anonymous.

A spokesperson for the service said: “We are very glad that our complaint to the Ombudsman has been upheld. It proves to the general public that this government was quick to pass legislation in 2014 to make sites for Gypsies and Travellers, but failed to monitor councils to make sure sites were provided.

“This also gave councils the impression that they don’t have to abide by their legal duties in the Housing (Wales) Act 2014

“That has left Gypsies and Travellers, our families, and others, with no accommodation for years; despite the need being known through the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessments which councils have to carry out every 5 years

“Please remember that there have been very few residential sites made across Wales and not one transit site has ever been developed anywhere in Wales since the legal duty came in – leaving us (and the general public) frustrated with nowhere for our families to live permanently or park our vehicles while travelling – 10 years after the Act came in this lack of progress is shocking

“It is our belief that our councils have had no ambition at all to provide any type of cultural accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers and at no point has Welsh Government shown any willingness to make councils abide by the law despite the evidence and our complaints

“Why would any council act when they are not monitored or spurned on to make sites? That’s why councils drag their feet

“We welcome these findings and are hoping that Welsh Government will now push councils in Wales to build residential and transit sites both for our families and all those others over Wales who need them as well”

Travelling Ahead said the publishing of the complaint as a Public Interest report provides an opportunity for better progress to be made across all local authorities in Wales

A Welsh Government spokesperson said:“We accept all the recommendations of the report from the Public Services Ombudsman. Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people are amongst the most marginalised people in society and face significant inequality.

“We are working with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people themselves, partners and local authorities to meet their needs as a key part of our Anti-racist Wales Action Plan.

“We are providing capital funding of £3.44m in 2024-25 for local authorities to improve, extend or build new Gypsy and Traveller sites.”

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