English | Cymraeg Tel: 029 2076 5760 Connect: Twitter

Plaid Cymru – Let Us Face the Future Together

Plaid Cymru would enshrine the right to housing in law and put Housing First at the forefront of the fight against homelessness. The party would appoint a national director for Housing First and make it the default option for anyone with complex needs who is experiencing homelessness.

This would be part of a programme that would also include:

  • Requiring local authorities to adopt a rapid rehousing model, whereby anyone experiencing homelessness is guaranteed their own room, not merely floorspace for 12 hours a day, as immediate emergency accommodation.
  • Repealing section 74 of the Housing Act Wales (2014) which allows local authorities to end their duty of help to people who are still known to be homeless. This would include a permanent end to the implementation of No Recourse to Public Funds conditions in Wales so that everyone who needs help can access housing and homelessness services.
  • Abolishing the priority need system by the end of the next Senedd term.
  • Scrapping the bedroom tax as soon as it has the power to do so.

The manifesto also promises what it describes as the biggest public housebuilding programme in 50 years – building or converting 50,000 public homes over the next five years, of which 30,000 would be council or social housing, 5,000 for cost-rental at intermediate rent and 15,000 genuinely affordable homes to buy. These would include some of the 26,000 empty homes and empty flats above shops that will be brought back into use.

Under this programme, publicly built housing would become a mainstream option for people on average incomes, not just low incomes.

Plaid aims to make home ownership affordable again in all parts of Wales, with affordable defined as 4.5 times the average income or around £125,000. To keep costs down it would develop a ‘public leasehold model’ where the land on which an affordable purchase home stands will never be sold but leased to the homeowner indefinitely at no or low cost, removing a significant element from the purchase price of the property.

‘Complex’ Section 106 agreements would be replaced with a single community infrastructure levy, with local authorities and Welsh Government pooling public and private funds for major housing schemes and infrastructure delivery.

Major reforms to planning and development would include:

  • Preventing the creation of poor-quality private sector new builds that fail to provide affordable housing by replacing the ‘flawed’ Local Development Plan framework with a more controlled planning system.
  • Requiring housing developments to contain at least 50 per cent genuinely affordable housing, delivered in a community setting.
  • New powers for Welsh Government to acquire land (on a compulsory basis if necessary) and provide housing
  • Restoring local authorities’ central role of meeting local housing need in a variety of ways, depending on local circumstances.
  • Supporting a range of innovative models for developing affordable housing including small housing co-operatives and the charitable bond model using financial transactions monies as pioneered by the Scottish Government.

A Plaid Cymru government would set up a new publicly owned company, Unnos – Land and Housing Wales. This would be a not-for- distributable profit company that would be self-sufficient through the charges it makes for its services and products.

The party argues that at a time when interest rates are at an historic low, the rental streams from new social housing developments are increasingly attractive to long term investors such as pension funds. Operating through Unnos, a Plaid Cymru government would access funding from these long-term investors to finance ‘a substantial and sustained increase in the provision of social and affordable housing in Wales, using the Welsh government’s covenant to further reduce interest rate costs where desirable’.

Unnos would become a centre of excellence for good construction practice with a focus on off-site and Modern Methods of Construction and the means to establish production facilities for housing. It would help to create Welsh supply chains and use local workforces and businesses and play a strategic role for land assembly and compulsory purchase, working in partnership with local authorities, housing associations and other partners.

Two new regional development agencies would be created for the western seaboard (Arfor) and valleys (Cymoedd) and Plaid would explore using new town development corporation powers to develop new planned communities at scale in the rural north and west and Heads of the Valleys.

A Welsh Green Deal would deliver £6 billion of investment in infrastructure and the foundational economy over the next five years that would include construction of social homes.

Action on housing standards would include:

  • Ending the ‘scandal’ of leasehold homes with unfair service charges
  • Setting a timetable and a strategy for private rented homes to reach the Welsh Housing Quality Standard.
  • Improving consumer protection for poor quality in new builds.
  • Ensuring that past performance in delivering against planning obligations can become a material consideration in future planning applications .
  • Seeking the powers to introduce a windfall tax on the profits of large developers and use the proceeds to solve the problems created by poor builds that can ‘trap owners into poor quality flats and houses with no recourse’ as in the cladding scandal.

A Plaid Cymru government would ‘end the problem of unsustainable growth in house prices’ and have an explicit goal of bringing house prices back within the reach of the average citizen and stop houses being seen as commodities or assets rather than a place to live. Action on this would include:

  • Bringing forward proposals for a new and fairer land and property tax, levied as a flat rate on owners not occupants based on up-to date values, to replace first business rates, and then, council tax.
  • Reforming compulsory purchase so land can be acquired at existing use value.
  • A new Community Rights Act and exploring a community wealth fund to empower communities to buy community assets, including land, and a new national service to support them in the process.
  • Exploring proposals for a Property Act to provide a legislative foundation for the commitment to ensure homes are genuinely affordable for people on local incomes.
  • A moratorium on the sale of public assets, including land, into private hands without robust covenants to ensure they remain of community and public benefit.

For renters, a Fair Rents Bill would provide indefinite tenancies and end no-fault evictions, assess rents as fair and put a rent cap on increases. Tenancies would be made transferrable between generations.

Local authorities would get the power to set a Living Rent rule capping rents in rental pressure zones at a third of the average local income.

Social housing would move towards a living rent model that links rent to local income and end the current freedom for housing associations to raise rents above inflation.

An Emergency Mortgage Rescue Scheme would give owners the option to become tenants rather than face eviction, with the option to buy back in future via shared ownership.

Local authorities would get new powers to tackle the problem of second homes. Actions would include changing the planning laws to allow them to impose a cap on the number of second homes and refuse permission for changing a home from primary to secondary residence, a 200 per cent council tax premium, and trebling the Land Transaction Charge on second property purchases. Plaid would also fund a pilot scheme to bring holiday homes into community ownership and channel the profits into social housing provision.

See http://www.partyof.wales/manifesto for more details.

Sign up to our email newsletter

Every two months we'll email you a summary of the latest news & articles on the WHQ website. Better still, if you're a fully paid up magazine subscriber, you'll get access to the latest members-only articles as well.

Sign up for the email newsletter »

Looking to advertise in our magazine?

Advertising and sponsored features are a great way to raise your profile with our readership of housing and regeneration decision makers in Wales.

Find out more »