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‘Due regard’ to right to housing will be in Bill

Housing minister Julie James has confirmed that the right to adequate housing will feature as a ‘due regard’ duty in the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill.

Speaking in the Senedd on Tuesday, she confirmed what she had already said in committee and said the duty will be written into the statutory guidance which will be given to local authorities if the bill becomes law.

Though a ‘due regard’ duty does not include an enforceable right to adequate housing for individuals, it will require local authorities to demonstrate that they have thought about the right as a central part of their policy and decision-making processes, a process that can be subject to court challenge. The aim of the ‘due regard’ duty is to drive positive change and focus more resource on housing.

Conservative shadow housing minister David Melding expressed his disappointment that the right to adequate housing will not be written into Welsh law and argued that this was the opportunity to do it in this Assembly.

He told the minister:

‘I think it’s very disappointing that you’re hiding behind some sort of form of due regard contained in guidance. Now is the time to put this in on the face of the Bill. And, of course, the courts interpret that in terms of what is available, what we can do, but the basic point would be that everyone should be housed, and I do think that ought to be in our fundamental law.’

Julie James responded:

‘I hear what David Melding says, and I largely agree with him. But what we’re doing here is ensuring that local authorities give regard to the right to adequate housing.’

She added that she would not take any lessons from the Conservative benches given the party’s failure to act at UK level.

CIH Cymru, Tai Pawb, and Shelter Cymru, together with Dr Simon Hoffman of Swansea University, have been campaigning for full incorporation of the right and earlier this year published a feasibility study.

In a joint statement, all four organisations welcomed the minister’s announcement:

‘We’ve had some very positive discussions with Welsh Government over the proposal to incorporate the right to adequate housing into Welsh law.

‘In light of our feasibility study and campaign, we welcome the minister’s statement today which is progress in the right direction.

‘While not as effective as full incorporation, adopting a ‘due regard’ approach has the potential to drive positive change and act as a catalyst for further resources – hopefully leading to better outcomes for people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

‘We look forward to monitoring the progress of the bill and to participating in evidence stages.”


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