Wales plans to end family homelessness
The Welsh Government has unveiled plans to end family homelessness by 2019 in its housing white paper published today.
It has also firmly set out its proposals for exiting the housing revenue account system and allowing councils to claim rent rebates in the paper Better lives and communities.
Launching the document, housing minister Huw Lewis said: ‘What this means is that no children in Wales will experience homelessness ever again. Housing is the bedrock of this government’s progressive agenda around poverty.’
Other proposals include improving the quality of homes through the Welsh Housing Quality Standard and other methods.
‘We do not intend to let go of the issue of quality in housing, regardless of the economic challenges we face,’ Mr Lewis said.
‘To help with this we’re negotiating Wales’ withdrawal from the housing revenue account system.’
Along with English councils, Welsh local authorities have to pay council house rents to Whitehall which then redistrubes the money based on a complex formula. The Welsh Government has been talking to the UK Treasury for more than a year about exiting the system saying it has meant Welsh landlords have not been able to invest and improve their stock.
The Welsh Labour administration has also pledged to prevent homelessness and improve housing services in the white paper, particularly to the vulnerable. It confirmed it plans to build 7,500 new affordable homes by 2016.
Director of Shelter Cymru John Puzey said: ‘We weren’t expecting that commitment [family homelessness] and it’s a tremendous step forward.’
Vikki Hiscocks, policy and public affairs manager at the Chartered Institute of Housing in Wales, said: ‘The big thing for us is the breadth and scope of the paper. It is certainly ambitious but it is realistic and achievable.’
Jack Dromey, Labour’s shadow housing minister, said: ‘This white paper from a Labour administration contains some bold measures to help people realise their dream of a home at a price they can afford.
‘These ambitious plans sit in stark contrast to the out of touch housing policies of the Tory-led Government [in England].’
Mr Lewis said he will introduce a second housing bill within the next four years.