Welsh government sets 12,500 home building goal
The Welsh government has set a target of building 12,500 new homes in the country by 2016.
In a ministerial statement today housing minister Huw Lewis announced 7,500 of the homes would be affordable, built with money from the Welsh government and other housing providers using their own finance.
The white paper setting out the government’s proposals for new legislation, and non-legislative action, to reach the aim will be published next week.
‘This is an ambitious goal, but one I believe is deliverable if we endeavour to work together with key housing stakeholders, including housing providers, housing funders and the voluntary sector,’ the minister said.
‘This is set at a time of great budgetary pressure, but I am confident that partnership working, flexibility and determination to find new solutions, will prevail.’
Mr Lewis also said the government wanted 5,000 empty homes to be brought back into use through its £5 million Houses into homes scheme, which started last month and makes loans available to owners to bring empty properties back into use.
To build the social homes, the Welsh government intends to:
- Secure additional social housing grant funding of £22 million to bring the 2011/12 total to £97 million
- Support the development of a Welsh Housing Bond
- Secure an exit from the housing revenue account subsidy system
- Accelerate the government’s programme for releasing public sector land for housing
- Support special purpose vehicles to deliver housing on public sector and Welsh government land
Housing association umbrella group Community Housing Cymru said the target would ‘focus minds and resources’ to ensure affordable homes are built.
Chief executive Nick Bennett said: ‘We face challenging times ahead with public spending cuts and a challenging lending environment.
‘Members have played their part through financial initiatives such as accessing bond finance and the setting up of the Welsh Housing Partnership – and they will continue to innovate.’
The Welsh Liberal Democrat housing spokesperson Peter Black criticised the housing targets as ‘late’ and ‘unambitious’. The Welsh Labour government was formed in May last year.
‘The minister has left himself a lot to do by waiting until a year into his tenure to announce them,’ Mr Black said.
‘What I am concerned about is the disparity between these targets and the [Welsh] government’s own research into housing need.
‘A research document commissioned by the government in 2010 said that an estimated 284,000 additional homes are required in Wales between 2006 and 2026. These estimates average 14,200 dwellings a year of which 5,100 should be affordable. The minister’s target does not even scratch the surface of what is required.’
He also said that the minister should come up with a clear definition of a ‘new affordable home’.