Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Welsh seek more power over housing

Wales could gain further legislative powers over housing if the Welsh people vote ‘yes’ in a referendum tomorrow.

The Welsh public are being asked for their views on whether their government should be able to pass legislation on a range of areas that are currently the responsibility of the UK government in Westminster.

The Welsh Assembly Government secured greater legislative powers over housing last year through a legislative competence order. But there are several powers still reserved by the UK government, such as the ability to legislate on empty homes, the private rented sector and to abolish the right to buy altogether.

John Puzey, director of Shelter Cymru, said: ‘The current system is complicated, difficult and almost patronising towards Wales.

‘We managed to get some powers around housing but there’s a number that were not included in that.’

If the assembly government is given the law-making powers, Shelter Cymru would like it to look at simplifying empty homes legislation, and bringing in laws that give communities a right to buy land.

Keith Edwards, director of the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru, said: ‘It would be a lot easier to get additional powers for housing and not have to go to Westminster.’

A spokesperson for the ‘yes’ campaign said: ‘The current framework does not allow housing issues to be properly addressed in Wales.

‘Because it is [currently] driven by the processes rather than driven by finding suitable solutions that actually help people’.

If the Welsh people vote ‘yes’ in the referendum an order will be sent to Westminster for approval, with the new powers coming into force after the Welsh elections in May.

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