Wednesday, 02 September 2015

Welsh assembly gets greater powers over housing

The Welsh Assembly Government has won the power to legislate over a number of areas including the ability to abolish the right to buy.

Last week 63.4 per cent of Welsh people voted in favour of the assembly being able to make laws on subjects in 20 areas after the regional elections in May. The turnout was around 35 per cent.

The result means the assembly will no longer need agreement from Westminster to make legislation. It secured greater powers over housing last year through a legislative competence order, which covered the ability to leglislate on homelessness and the suspension of the right to buy.

Last Thursday’s referendum means Wales now has control over all housing matters, including the ability to legislate on empty homes, the private rented sector and the abolition of the right to buy altogether.

Jocelyn Davies, deputy minister for housing and regeneration, said: ‘This means that we now have powers over all housing matters in Wales. It also means that the long and complicated LCO process, that for three years held up the housing measure that will allow us to address the shortage of social housing in Wales, is a thing of the past.

‘The people of Wales have voted for a more efficient and more effective legislature, and future generations will benefit from their actions.’

Vikki Hiscocks, policy and public affairs manager at the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru, said: ‘The assembly will now be able to make appropriate housing laws without having to go through the long process of seeking transfer of power from Westminster on a case by case basis.

‘We are looking forward to working with government on a legislative programme that meets the specific needs and challenges faced in Wales.’

John Puzey, director of Shelter Cymru, said: ‘We will be able to develop Welsh solutions for housing problems in Wales.’

Mr Puzey added that he hoped the assembly would now look at bringing consumer law to bear on the private rented sector and simplify legislation on bringing private empty homes back into use.

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