It seems that they are contemplating a Housing Bill, and this paper is expressing various ideas which will, we assume, in due course go towards forming the basis of tbe bill.
Welsh housing figures
The problem can be summed up by the fact that, in Wales, there are approximately 14,000 new households every year but only 7,000 new homes.
As at 31 March 2010, approximately 70% of housing in Wales was owner occupied, with the remainder split between private rented (14%) and social housing (16%). So rented property is a big part of the picture.
Some interesting ideas
There are a number of interesting ideas discussed in the paper. For example credit unions are mentioned favourably, as are co-operatives.
There is an empty homes problem in Wales as there is in England, and the Welsh Government are investing 5 million for local authorities to develop a loan scheme to help owners to bring the properties back into use.
Page 12 has some comments on private renting. For example the report refers to
committing to landlord registration and training and the regulation of letting/management agencies
Along with a references to housing associations providing management services to private landlords and encouragement of institutional investors.
The report recognises that the private sector simply does not have enough properties to satisfy the need so building new houses will be very important. I was intrigued though by the Ministers reference to housing standards and the size of houses:
However, I also have concerns about the quality of private housing; more specifically, the size of new build private homes, which seems to be some of the smallest homes in Europe
There are also moves to improve the quality of housing:
… as demonstrated by the early results of Carmarthenshire County Council’s long-term health impact assessment study, include improvements to people’s health and well being. Renewal areas, closely allied with our regeneration work, should have the quality and condition of homes at the core of their concerns.
It also seems that some local authorities have developed loans to help people improve properties and it is hoped to extend this further.
This is just a preliminary paper, and we are told that a ‘proper’ consultation paper will follow. However if you have suggestions or comments on the paper, responses are invited, by 17 February. It looks as if more is happening in the housing area in Wales than in England, and this is somewhere to watch.
You can read the paper online here.