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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Isherwood questions Minister over affordable housing

SHADOW Housing Minister Mark Isherwood has questioned the Housing Minister over action to address the "lack" of affordable housing in Wales, highlighting the increase in new home registrations in England, as they have plummeted in Wales.
 
Speaking in the Chamber, Mr Isherwood questioned the Minister over work to ensure that new affordable housing goes to local people, and also asked what action is being taken to ensure local authorities seek the best way of maximising the supply of quality homes for affordable and social rent.  
 
He said: “As you know, although half of the local authorities in Wales have transferred their housing stock, they all retain a strategic housing responsibility. How will you ensure that, in maximising the supply of quality homes for affordable and social rent, local authorities seek the best way of doing that, whether or not that means that the property remains or becomes council owned?"
 
Questioning him over section 106 agreements, he said: “In the quarter to August, new home registrations in England were up 16%, but down a further 24% in Wales. We know that your predecessor had commissioned some work on section 106 agreements, to try to reconcile the need to maximise the occupancy cascades, which prioritise local people, with the needs of mortgage lenders to protect in law the assets against which they lend. Will you update us on the recommendations of that work and how that is impacting on Welsh Government delivery?"
 
In his reply, the Minister insisted that house building in Wales is showing signs of recovery and said that he did not accept Mr Isherwood’s “negative comments regarding house building in Wales”.
 
Mr Isherwood added: “It is clearly a matter of concern if the Housing Minister in Wales does not recognise the official figures for new home registrations produced by the National House-Building Council (NHBC). It is also a matter of concern that the Minister failed to answer my question on a matter which is absolute key to the delivery of more affordable housing for young people in our communities.”
 
Mr Isherwood also asked the Minister what consideration he will give to enabling tenants in council areas where they have voted against stock transfer to consider voting fo r having a Community Housing Mutual within their own community.
 
He said: “The first community housing mutual was delivered in Knowsley village in 1981 under the Heseltine initiative. However, in Wales, we are still waiting to hear good news about how this can be maximised.”

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