Affordable Homes' Supply Shrinks While Social Housing Lists Grow

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 30, 2009 | Go to article overview
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Affordable Homes' Supply Shrinks While Social Housing Lists Grow


Byline: Martin Shipton

SOCIAL housing waiting lists are getting longer while the supply of affordable homes has been decreasing, according to official figures.

A research document produced by staff at the National Assembly shows that, across Wales, there were more than 91,000 housing applications outstanding in January 2009. In November 2007, the figure stood at around 80,000.

Yet in the financial year 2007-08, the number of affordable housing units built in the whole of Wales was just 744 - down from 803 the previous year.

The Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition has set itself a target of creating 6,500 new affordable homes during the four years to 2011.

Welsh Liberal Democrat housing spokesman Peter Black said: "It's clear that their target will be very difficult to attain. Quite clearly there are not enough new houses being built to get anywhere near that figure.

"I know they are looking at other areas, like buying new homes that the private sector can't sell, but even with the extra pounds 42m they have committed to the affordable housing budget I can't see them coming close to the target.

"What they should be doing is tackling the issue of empty homes, of which there are more than 18,000 in the private sector. With existing powers, they could impose a punitive element of council tax on owners who keep houses empty for more than two years.

"The other question that needs to be asked is whether the Government's 6,500 target is net or gross? In other words, do we end up with 6,500 extra houses after taking into account right-to-buy sales and demolitions? If so then it is a much steeper target."

Mr Black said the Assembly Government's bid to Westminster for the power to legislate in the field of affordable housing should have been more general, instead of focusing on the question of tenants' "right to buy" their homes.

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