Chief Executive calls for urgent action in response to the housing crisis
The Welsh Government needs to take urgent action to respond to the housing crisis in rural Wales, so as not to lose the goodwill of those communities facing the crisis.
That was the message of Grŵp Cynefin’s Chief Executive in giving evidence to the Local Government and Housing Committee of the Welsh Parliament this Wednesday, 9 March 2022.
Shan Lloyd Williams was responding to Dr Simon Brooks’ report, Second homes: developing new policies in Wales at the Inquiry into second homes: Parliamentary landlords and community groups evidence session.
Shan Lloyd Williams welcomed Dr Brooks’ report recommendations and noted that Grŵp Cynefin had also played a key role in responding to consultations since the report’s release. But she voiced a need for urgency in responding to the housing crisis.
“We need to act quicker”
“We need to act quicker in terms of how we are going to respond to the recommendations or the risk is that we will lose the goodwill that exists within communities,” she warned. “The communities are ready and eager to work and see these recommendations being taken forward and seeing that we are developing solutions to the problems.
“On their own, the solutions are not going to make much difference, in my opinion, but combined e.g., with the recent declaration on council tax right up to 300%. And other things need to be in place at the same time to make a real difference.”
As a native of the Llŷn Peninsula, she also drew on her personal experience of living in an affected area, saying that she could personally see the impact on the community and the Welsh language.
She cited other factors that require special consideration when discussing the construction of homes to respond to the crisis, including the availability and prices of land. She also mentioned the challenge of attracting suitable contractors to undertake the work.
“We to work with small local contractors”
“The construction companies of the size that is needed to develop housing are not interested in coming to rural areas,” he said. “The costs are going to be higher and their profit is going to be less. We therefore need to work with small local contractors and give them the confidence to tender and work better together.”
With construction costs increasing in terms of materials and labour – the overall cost of building a square meter being in the region of £1900 to £2500 – the cost of building in rural areas has risen even further.
“Rural areas factor also needs to be prioritised”
Shan Lloyd Williams said: “As a sector, we welcome the fact that the Welsh Government has already made a generous allocation towards building affordable housing across Wales. But I think that the rural areas factor also needs to be prioritised even higher than the formula used in housing development.”