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Labour failing RCT on housing provision says Peter Black AM

October 19, 2011 11:52 PM

In a speech to Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference in Wrexham Peter Black AM, Shadow Minister for Housing and Assembly Member for South Wales West said:

We have heard so much about Labour's programme for government and its failure to set clear targets on which it can be measured.

In the field of housing that failure is felt most critically. Too many people are struggling to get a home of their own. The House Builders Federation estimates that there are 100,000 Welsh families on housing waiting lists, with first-time buyers needing an average deposit of around £30,000.

They say that only 918 new homes were registered in the first three months of the year, compared to 1,120 last year, despite rises in housebuilding across the UK. The Welsh Government's own research says that we need 14,200 new homes in Wales each year of which 5,100 need to be affordable.

We have already fallen behind that target by 9,500 homes. The Welsh Government's response has been pitiful. They have cut the budget for new social housing and so far all we have had is a deafening silence on how they are going to tackle this crisis.

At least the One Wales Government had a target as to how many additional affordable homes they planned to build, even if they did fail to meet it. Under Labour we are back to vague promises and hopeless inaction. And these are not just figures, they relate to peoples' lives.

Like my constituent from the Rhondda Cynon Taf area who e-mailed me recently to tell me about the problems that he and his partner are having getting onto the property ladder as first time buyers, despite the fact that they are both in work.

He told me that he had recently attended a mortgage appointment and was informed that he would need to find a 25% deposit if he wanted to take out a mortgage. So if he bought an average house with his partner for £100,000, they would need to find £25,000.

As he said: "I am not quite sure how people are meant to save this sort of money and still live." If we do not build new homes then we will not be able to bring prices down.

If we do not provide more homes for people to rent then they will remain in desperate need of a roof over their head that they can call their own. If we do not put in additional help for first time buyers then they will never be able to afford a mortgage to secure their first home.

I recognise that public finances are tight but if we think outside of the box then we can start to tackle this problem. There are 26,000 empty private sector homes in Wales that can be brought back into use but we are still waiting for the government to give us the leadership and the tools to deliver.

Proposals to raise £100 million of private finance for new affordable homes have been on the cards for years with little or no progress and now it seems that the Labour government has given up on this plan as well.