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New bill will improve access to housing in Wales

new billTHE HOUSING (Wales) Bill, published by the Welsh Government, has been welcomed by the WLGA as a real opportunity to improve people’s access to good quality housing in Wales. Commenting on the new bill, Cllr Dyfed Edwards, WLGA Spokesperson for Housing said:

“The WLGA supports the ambition set out within this new legislation, which is wide in scope and focuses on a number of fundamental issues affecting people’s lives in Wales.

“Local government is now committed to working with Welsh Government and other partners to deliver the changes outlined in the new legislation, many of which will reinforce and support the work which is on-going within local councils across Wales. Councils specifically welcome the increased emphasis on preventing homelessness which is at the heart of this new bill, as well as the reform of the Housing Revenue Account Subsidy System which offers councils a clear opportunity to increase the financial resources that they have available to improve housing stock and potentially build new homes.

“While some of the changes proposed by the new legislation can clearly be introduced without requiring additional resources, some aspects of the legislation will undoubtedly be challenging for local authorities to deliver within the current financial climate. The WLGA will now test ‘deliverability’ of the new legislation with local authorities, and continue to work closely with Welsh Government to increase access to good quality housing in Wales.”

Cllr Aaron Shotton, WLGA Spokesperson for Finance added:

“Many households are already struggling as a result of the poor economic climate, and there is a real fear that welfare reforms such as the ‘bedroom tax’ will add to this misery, and increase the number of families facing homelessness in Wales. Against this backdrop, it is vital that Welsh Government, local authorities and their wider partners do more to prevent homelessness, and to take early action to limit the hugely negative impacts that being made homeless can have, particularly on children.

“The additional funding that has been identified in the Welsh Government’s budget for 2015-16 will enable an increased focus on preventative services and must be welcomed, and we look forward to continued discussions with the Minister to ensure that local councils have the resources required to deliver the ambition of this new bill.”

Cllr Lynda Thorne, WLGA Deputy Spokesperson for Housing said:

“Building more affordable homes is very important, but we also need to make the best use of existing housing, including housing within the private rented sector. This legislation will help us to work more closely with landlords to improve the private rented sector, which is becoming an increasingly important part of the housing market. We welcome the proposal to introduce a registration and accreditation scheme for all landlords and letting and management agents in Wales as one means of improving standards. Cardiff Council has been running a voluntary registration scheme for landlords for a number of years and we believe it has proven effective in developing better relationships with landlords, and helped to improve housing conditions in the city.”