High house prices are destroying our communities – here’s my plan to fix it

Mabon ap Gwynfor

*Saesneg yn dilyn oddi tanddo / English follows below*

Mabon ap Gwynfor, ymgeisydd ar gyfer enwebiad Plaid Cymru yn Nwyfor Meirionnydd

Nid oedd adroddiad diweddar y Resolution Foundation, a ddangosodd fod perchnogaeth ail dai wedi dyblu ers 2001, wedi dod fel syndod i gymunedau arfordirol gorllewin Cymru.

Mae’r angen i reoli’r farchnad dai wedi bod yn rhan ganolog o ymgyrch y mudiad iaith yng Nghymru ers yr 1960au. Os oedd hi’n argyfwng bryd hynny, yna mae’n greisis erbyn heddiw.

Mae yna dros 24,000 o ail gartrefi yng Nghymru, gyda bron i 5,000 ohonynt yng Ngwynedd, a thros 4,000 yn Sir Benfro.

Yn 2017/18 roedd bron i 40% o’r tai a werthwyd yng Ngwynedd a 36% o’r tai a werthwyd ar Ynys Môn wedi eu gwerthu fel ail dai.

Ond nid problem sydd wedi ei chyfyngu i ail dai yn unig ydyw.

Mae’n symptom o broblem economaidd ehangach.

Dwyfor-Meirionnydd ydy’r etholaeth gyda’r cyflog isaf drwy’r Deyrnas Gyfunol, £420 yr wythnos ar gyfartaledd. Mae dros 18% o aelwydydd Llŷn ac Eifionydd gydag incwm o lai na £10,000 y flwyddyn, a 39% o’r boblogaeth yn byw mewn tlodi cymharol.

Cymharwch hyn gydag ardal fel etholaeth Three Rivers, ger Harrow, ble mae’r incwm wythnosol yn £671 a chyfartaledd pris gwerthu tai yn £1m a mwy.

Ym Mlaenau Ffestiniog y mae’r stoc dai mwyaf fforddiadwy yng Ngwynedd, ond eto mae 1 o bob 2 o’r bobl leol wedi cael eu prisio allan o’r farchnad yno.

Tra bod ein cymunedau mwyaf difreintiedig wedi dioddef yn affwysol oherwydd polisïau llymder Llywodraeth San Steffan, mae’r gagendor cyfoeth wedi mynd yn fwy.

Gall pobl gymharol gyfoethog (o’i gymharu â’r rhan fwyaf o Gymru) werthu eu heiddo mewn ardaloedd ble mae’r farchnad dai yn rhemp a phrynu tŷ am draean y pris yma gan fyw oddi ar y gwahaniaeth mewn pris. Nid mater o beidio eisiau pobl i ddod yma, neu o beidio croesawi rhywun, neu o beidio hoffi rhywun yw hyn, ond yn hytrach mater o degwch economaidd. Nid yw’n pobl ifanc yn medru cystadlu yn economaidd.

Mae’r farchnad rydd a chyfalafiaeth remp yn dinistrio ein cymunedau.

Nid oes yna ffordd hawdd i ddatrys y broblem.

Yn amlwg nid yw’r gyfundrefn bresennol yn gweithio o blaid ein cymunedau. Yn wir, mae’n milwrio yn eu herbyn, gan wrthod deddfu i reoleiddio’r farchnad dai.

Dim ond trwy gael y gallu i reoli’r farchnad ein hun a sicrhau fod deddfwriaeth yn ymateb i anghenion ein cymunedau y gallwn ni wella’r sefyllfa.

Fedrith annibyniaeth ddim dod yn ddigon buan i’n cymunedau Cymraeg eu hiaith, er mwyn sicrhau fod gennym Lywodraeth sydd yn deddfu er mwyn mynd i’r afael â phroblemau Cymru.

Ond beth sydd i’w wneud yn y cyfamser?

Cyfyngiad

Mae gan yr adrannau gynllunio ambell i declyn fedrith eu helpu – mae adrannau 106 a 157 ar gael er mwyn ceisio sicrhau fod tai yn aros yn fforddiadwy a/neu yn lleol. Mae Cyngor Gwynedd eisoes yn defnyddio’r grymoedd yma orau eu gallu, ac maent yn ganolog i reolau cynllunio rhanbarthau eraill sy’n wynebu problemau tebyg, megis y Lake District, Peak District a’r Chilterns yn Lloegr.

Ond mae’n amlwg fod hyn yn annigonol.

Mae pobl Cernyw wedi ceisio mynd gam ymhellach gyda rhai cymunedau wedi mynd ati i drefnu refferendwm er mwyn sicrhau nad ydy tai newydd yn cael eu hadeiladu a’u gwerthu fel ail dai. Gall camau o’r fath fod o gymorth i ni yng Nghymru, ond rwy’n ofni na fyddai’n ddigon. Nid adeiladau newydd yw’r broblem yng Nghymru wledig.

Mae AC Plaid Cymru, Siân Gwenllian, wedi cyflwyno cynnig blaengar. Mae Siân yn dweud y dylid cael caniatâd cynllunio er mwyn newid defnydd tŷ o fod yn gartref i fod yn ail dŷ. Gall hyn roi grym ychwanegol i’n hadrannau cynllunio wrth i ni geisio rheoli’r farchnad dai.

Yn anffodus, y tu hwnt i hyn, mae gallu’r Cynulliad Cenedlaethol i wneud fwy yn y maes yma yn gyfyng.

Ond does dim i rwystro’r Cynulliad rhag drafftio Bil a gweld os yw’r Uchel Lys yn gytûn fod gan ein Senedd y cymhwysedd i ddeddfu.

Pe bai nhw am wneud hynny, yna efallai y dylid edrych y tu hwnt i lannau gwledydd y Deyrnas Gyfunol er mwyn gweld pa ddatrysiadau y mae gwledydd eraill wedi eu mabwysiadu.

Mae gan y Swisdir reolau caeth iawn.

Yn 2012, cytunodd pobl y Swisdir mewn refferendwm i osod cyfyngiad ar faint o dai gwyliau oedd yn cael bodoli. Mae’n rhaid i dŷ fod wedi ei leoli mewn ardal sydd wedi ei neilltuo fel ardal gwyliau cyn ei werthu fel tŷ gwyliau, ac wedyn mae angen caniatâd gan y canton (ardal / sir) cyn medru ei brynu. Gall y canton neu’r fwrdeistref osod eu rheolau eu hun yn ogystal.

Mae Llywodraeth Aotearoa (Seland Newydd) bellach yn stopio tramorwyr (ac eithrio pobl o Awstralia a Singapore) rhag prynu eiddo yno, a hynny oherwydd bod pobl leol yn cael eu prisio allan o’r farchnad yn dilyn cynnydd anferthol yn y gwerthiant o dai i dramorwyr cyfoethog.

Mae Guernsey wedi cymryd camau llym i reoli’r farchnad dai yno. Mae’r Llywodraeth yno’n gweithredu dwy farchnad – marchnad agored ar gyfer dim ond 7% o dai, a’r gweddill yn farchnad gaeedig, ar gyfer pobl leol neu bobl  â thrwydded gwaith.

Yn olaf, ar ddiwedd mis Mai eleni pasiodd Llywodraeth Catalunya ddeddf i roi cap ar rent mewn ardaloedd lle mae modd profi bod yna ddiffyg tai fforddiadwy. Mae Sadiq Khan yn edrych i gyflwyno syniad o’r fath yn Llundain.

Dyma’r mathau o gamau y dylai ein Llywodraeth yng Nghymru edrych i’w cymryd er mwyn diogelu dyfodol ein cymunedau Cymreig a rhoi gwell cyfle i’n pobl ifanc fedru aros yn eu cynefin.

Wrth gwrs, erys y cwestiwn economaidd. Heb well cyflogau bydd pethau’n parhau i fod yn anodd i bobl leol. Ond byddai cyflwyno camau megis y ddeddf newydd yng Nghatalunya yn help i reoli’r farchnad a sicrhau argaeledd tai fforddiadwy i bobl sy’n dymuno aros yn eu cynefin.

Yn wir, hwyrach mai datrysiad Catalunya ydy’r opsiwn mwyaf credadwy yn y tymor byr, gan ei fod yn cynnig datrysiad i’r cwestiwn o sut mae rheoleiddio’r farchnad, ac yn sicrhau tai fforddiadwy i bobl yn eu cymunedau. Byddai hefyd yn cynnig datrysiad cenedlaethol, fedrith gael ei weithredu yng Nghymru wledig a threfol.

Wedi’r cyfan mae rhagamcanion Llywodraeth Cymru yn rhagweld yr angen am 24,000 o gartrefi newydd dros y bedair mlynedd nesaf er mwyn ateb y galw, a gan nad yw’r farchnad dai orboeth yn dangos dim arwyddion o oeri, efallai mai capio a rheoli rhent a sicrhau fod gennym stoc dai rhent digonol gan adeiladu fwy o dai cyngor, ydy’r ateb gorau tan i ni ddatganoli’r sector yn llwyr.

Mae cael dwy farchnad – un agored ac un gaeedig – hefyd yn syniad amgen a fyddai’n rhoi gwell cyfle i bobl leol i brynu tŷ yn eu cymuned.

Mae’n gwestiwn os oes gan y Cynulliad y cymhwysedd i ddatblygu rheolau a deddfau o’r fath. Dim ond yr Uchel Lys fedrith benderfynu ar hynny, yn y pendraw.

Ond y cwestiwn sylfaenol ydy, a oes yna ewyllys gwleidyddol i gymryd camau fydd yn tarfu ar y farchnad agored a’i rheoli er lles ein cymunedau a dyfodol y Gymraeg?

Dywed yr arbenigwyr gwyddonol mai cwta deuddeng mlynedd sydd gennym ar ôl i achub y blaned cyn bod pethau wedi mynd yn rhy hwyr i ni wyrdroi effeithiau niweidiol newid hinsawdd.

Mae’n amlwg i mi fod yn rhaid i ni edrych ar ein hecoleg ddiwylliannol yn yr un modd, a gweithredu i amserlen debyg hefyd, cyn i bethau fynd yn drech na ni.


Mabon ap Gwynfor, candidate for Plaid Cymru’s nomination in Dwyfor Meirionnydd

The recently published report by the Resolution Foundation stating that the number of second home ownership in Britain had doubled since 2001 came as no surprise to communities on Wales’ west coast.

Regulating the housing market so that young people are not priced out has been a central tenet of the Welsh language campaign since the 1960s. If it was an emergency back then we are at crisis point today.

There are over 24,000 second homes in Wales, with nearly 5,000 in Gwynedd and 4,000 in Pembrokeshire.

In 2017/18 nearly 40% of the homes sold in Gwynedd and 35% of those sold in Anglesey were sold as second homes.

Neither is it a problem limited to second homes.

It’s a symptom of a wider economic problem.

Dwyfor-Meirionnydd is the constituency with the lowest average weekly income anywhere in the UK, at an average of £420 per week. In fact, 18% of households in Llŷn and Eifionydd have incomes of less than £10,000 pa, and 39% of the population there live in relative poverty.

Compare this to an area like the Three Rivers Constituency, near Harrow, where the median gross weekly earnings are £671 and the average house price over the last year was over £1m.

Blaenau Ffestiniog has the most affordable housing stock in Gwynedd, yet 1 in 2 of the people there are priced out of the local housing market.

While our most impoverished communities have suffered profoundly under austerity, the wealth divide has increased.

Relatively wealthy people (compared to most of Wales) can sell their property in areas where the housing market is booming and buy a house here for a third or less of the price and live off the difference. It’s not a case of not wanting, not welcoming, or not liking anybody, but rather a case of levelling the playing fields. Our young people simply can’t compete economically.

It’s a simple question of economics. The free market is destroying our communities. The future of our language and communities are at the mercy of rampant capitalism.

Sadly, there’s no easy answer.

It’s clear that the current regime is not fit for purpose, and is militating against the needs of our communities, by refusing to even attempt to regulate the housing market.

Only by having the ability to control the market ourselves and ensure that our legislation is responsive to the needs of our communities will we be able to improve the situation.

Independence can’t come soon enough for our Welsh-speaking communities, so that we can have a Government focussed on the needs of Wales and willing to find solutions to the problems that our communities face.

But what should be done in the meantime?

Limit

Council Planning Departments have some limited tools at their disposal – notably Sections 106 and 157, which can be used to control the sale of houses and ensure their retention as affordable houses or for local people. Gwynedd Council has already used these tools to the best of its ability, and they have played a central role in the attempts by other areas facing similar challenges to control the housing stock, notably the Peak and the Lake Districts and the Chilterns.

But these are clearly inadequate.

Communities in Cornwall have gone a step further and organised referendums to pass planning laws to restrict the selling of new builds as second homes. Such steps might assist us here in Wales, but I fear it won’t be nearly enough. New builds aren’t necessarily the problem for us in rural Wales.

The Plaid Cymru AM Sian Gwenllian has put forward an innovative proposal. Her idea is that a new category be created within planning – that of Second Homes, and any buyer wishing to buy a house as a second home must apply for a change of use. This will certainly be a strong weapon in the planning department’s armoury as they look to tackle this problem.

Beyond this, on the face of it at least, there is very little that the National Assembly can do.

However, there’s nothing to stop the Assembly from drafting a Bill and see if the Supreme Court would agree that it has the competence to legislate in this field.

If it were to do so, then we would need to look beyond these shores to see what answers have been developed elsewhere.

Switzerland have developed some very strict rules on holiday homes.

Following a referendum in 2012 the Swiss agreed to set a limit on the number of holiday homes in the country. A holiday home must also be situated in a designated holiday resort area, as agreed by the cantonal authorities. The cantons and municipalities may also apply further restrictions as well.

The Aotearoa Government (New Zealand) have banned the sale of property to foreigners (except Singaporians and Australians), because so much of the nation’s property was being bought up by wealthy foreigners, pricing local people out of the market.

Guernsey have imposed severe restrictions on the sale of houses to outsiders as well. There, they exercise a two-market policy – an open market, where only 7% of the housing stock is made available, and a closed market which is only accessible to local people or those who have a work permit.

Finally, late last month the Catalan Government passed a law to place a rent cap in areas where there is a proven lack of affordable housing.

These are the kind of initiatives that our Government should look at in order to secure the future of our Welsh-speaking communities and give our young people the opportunity to live in their home communities, should they wish.

Of course, the economic question remains. Without better wages it will continue to be a struggle for our young people. A law like that in Catalunya capping excessive rents and ensuring affordable rents would help.

I’d venture that the Catalan solution is probably our best and most realistic option in the short term at least, as it provides a solution to the problem regarding regulating the market, and ensures affordable homes for people within our communities. This would also provide an all-Wales solution, which could be implemented in rural as well as urban Wales.

After all, Welsh Government projections suggest that we’ll need another 24,000 homes over the next four years to answer the growing demand, and with the overheated housing market showing no signs of cooling, bringing in a rent cap and controls on rent, and ensuring that we have a rental housing stock to answer our needs by building more Council houses, is probably the best solution until we have full devolution.

Having two markets – one for the local economy and one for the State economy, is an alternative idea which would give local people a better chance of buying a home in their communities.

Whether or not the Assembly has competence would be up to the Supreme Court, but it should certainly be tested.

But the fundamental question is: is there political will to take the necessary steps to control the housing market and ensure the future of our Welsh-speaking communities?

Environmental scientists tell us that we only have twelve or so years left to stop irreversible climate warming and the ecological disaster that would entail.

It seems to me that we need a similar timetable to stop the erosion of our cultural and linguistic ecology before it’s too late.

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