Friday, 15 April 2011

Wigley visit to Wrexham highlights housing needs

Plaid priority over affordable homes

Affordable homes remain a priority for Wrexham despite the fall in house prices, according to Plaid Cymru's president Dafydd Wigley.
He joined Plaid Cymru's Assembly candidate for Wrexham Marc Jones to view some of the town's newest affordable housing and to highlight the concerns that many young people still can't get on the housing ladder.

Dafydd Wigley said:
"Falling house prices from their historic high in this part of Wales should have seen more people being able to afford their own homes. But what we're seeing is banks reluctant to lend and so deposits of £15-20,000 are not uncommon for basic starter homes. For a young person or couple just starting out and on a modest wage, this is totally unrealistic."

Marc Jones showed him the new bungalows in Coed Aben, Caia Park, built in cooperation with the local council. He said the development was a small step in the right direction but many more were needed to meet the demand - particularly to ensure that younger people were able to stay in their communities.

Mr Jones, who is also a councillor for the Whitegate ward in town, said:
"The council together with the Welsh Assembly Government is working on an ambitious affordable housing venture that will use land owned by both to develop more homes for local people. The most obvious site is the Hightown Flats site, which is now being demolished to be replaced with houses.

"But there are other sites dotted around the borough, where we can put up smaller developments that will meet local need. It's a step in the right direction because we haven't catered for that need sufficiently in the past."

He added that it was important to carefully consider what type of affordable housing was being built. Mr Jones said:
"Affordable housing can mean homes for rent, to buy or to part-buy. But if you need a huge deposit to buy a so-called affordable home, then it's not affordable to many people on low incomes.

"I've been approached by one housing association, who say they are having difficulty selling some affordable housing in the borough because of the high deposits needed. It makes no sense to be building affordable housing if they're then lying empty for want of a deposit.

"From talking to young families in my ward and elsewhere about the situation, it's also obvious that there are real obstacles that make it difficult for young people to buy their first home. As well as getting a large enough deposit there are conveyancing fees and stamp duty to pay. We will ensure that stamp duty is not payable for first-time buyers on starter homes.

"However it is also easy for the London-led parties to forget that home ownership is not the only way to ensure that the housing needs of our young people are taken care of; the Westminster Governments for decades have been discouraging the building of new council housing. Plaid Cymru will change the way that social housing is financed so that Treasury rules on borrowing no longer stand in the way of councils that want to build and maintain new council housing. Through these two straightforward rule changes Plaid Cymru will make it easier for young people to get on the housing ladder.

"Here in Wrexham, we've seen millions of pounds each year going from our housing budget to subsidise councils in England and we need to end that scandal immediately. Plaid has been highlighting the problem for some time now and will continue to campaign for that money to be returned to our housing budget.

"With a fresh new approach from a Plaid-led Welsh Government and this additional money in the housing budget, it will enable Wrexham Council to improve its existing stock and consider new ways to meet local housing demand."

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