MIKE HEDGES AM QUESTIONS FIRST MINISTER ON HOW THE WELSH GOVERNMENT CAN SUPPORT AND INCREASE IN COUNCIL HOUSE BUILDING.

MIKE HEDGES AM QUESTIONS FIRST MINISTER ON HOW THE WELSH GOVERNMENT CAN SUPPORT AND INCREASE IN COUNCIL HOUSE BUILDING.

Speaking after the Plenary session at The Assembly, Mike Hedges said….. Housing is one of the main challenges faced by the Welsh Government; having a good house to live in is crucial in so many areas of life. Poor housing often goes hand in hand with poor health and poor housing is often a significant issue blighting the early years of many of our children. I believe that encouraging councils to build more homes is crucial to meeting these challenges.

I welcome the First Minister’s commitment to supporting council house building programmes and welcome the Innovative Housing Programme which is supporting Swansea Councils new building program. I have visited the site in Penlan and look forward to visiting the new development about to start in Birchgrove. Building energy efficient homes like these is a big step on the path to addressing the housing crisis faced by many Swansea families.

3. Mike Hedges AM – How many council houses does the First Minister expect will be built in the 2019/20 financial year? OAQ53114

First Minister of Wales
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I thank Mike Hedges for the question. The latest plans we have suggest that local authorities expect to build around 600 new council homes in Wales during the next financial year. 57

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Can I thank the First Minister for his response? The First Minister is well aware the only time post-second world war when sufficient housing was built was when large-scale council housing development took place—dare I say, in places like Ely. How will the Welsh Government help councils increase the number of council houses being built in future years? 58

First Minister of Wales
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First of all, just to absolutely agree with Mike Hedges that we are surrounded by examples of what previous generations succeeded in doing in making sure that there was sufficient housing available—decent housing available, housing built to proper standards to house families and others in our towns and cities. And we have an obligation in our generation to do the same as well. My Saturday surgeries are dominated, as I know many Members here are dominated, by people who come through the door with housing problems and it’s an urgent public policy issue, and it’s why I was determined that there would be a Minister with direct housing responsibilities in the Cabinet here in Wales.59
There are a series of things we are already doing, of course. My colleague, Rebecca Evans, set up the affordable housing supply review, and that has a workstream specifically considering what support local authorities need to help them to do more to build council housing here in Wales. And we expect recommendations from that review in April of this year. We have welcomed the lifting of the borrowing cap by the UK Government, which we’ve called for for some time. That will allow local authorities to borrow within the prudential borrowing rules to allow them to do more. We recognise that some local authorities don’t have the capacity directly themselves to do everything they would like to do, and partnerships with housing associations are increasingly important. 60
are increasingly important. Being innovative in the way that local authorities go about the business of building more council houses—off-site manufacturing, for example, needs to be a greater part of future supply, and Swansea council is actively involved in our innovative housing programme and I’m sure will want to be part of the effort that Mike Hedges has pointed to this afternoon.