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Monday, May 25, 2015

Isherwood's challenge over homelessness

Shadow Housing Minister Mark Isherwood has challenged the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty over her statement on  Homelessness Legislation, stressing that homelessness figures will only fall once the housing supply crisis facing Wales has been addressed.
 
Mr Isherwood (pictured below) referred to the fact that in England, housing waiting lists have fallen by over 300,000, from 1.7 million, since 2010, yet a report commissioned by the Welsh Government reported four years ago that housing waiting lists in Wales stood at 90,000 and the October 2014 Homes for All Cymru Manifesto starts: “‘There is a housing crisis with more than 90,000 households on waiting lists’.
 
He therefore asked the Minister: “Do you therefore have figures for waiting lists in Wales, and if these figures are correct, why do you believe they have fallen by 300,000 in England and are still stuck at 90,000 in Wales?
 
“You state in your statement that you expect the duties on local authorities ‘to prevent homelessness in at least three out of four cases initially and, in due course, even more.’ Clearly, that can be the case, working particularly with third sector providers on things like tackling substance misuse, supporting former veterans, perpetrator programmes, domestic abuse, and so on, to keep households together. But, of course, that doesn’t tackle the housing supply shortage.
 
“How will you ensure that, therefore, we don’t get a repeat of the situation in 2004, when the Welsh Government intervened after housing waiting lists had grown by more than 120 per cent, and the housing charities subsequently announced that though homelessness fell, hidden homelessness - sometimes called ‘sofa surfing’ - had more than doubled?”
 
Mr Isherwood, who on Tuesday attended the Let’s Keep On Supporting People in Wales campaign event where he spoke of his support for Supporting People Services and called for the budget to be protected, reiterated this call in the chamber.  
 
Speaking outside the chamber, he added: “Labour’s massive social and affordable housing cuts from devolution in 1999 caused the housing crisis in Wales that is condemning tens of thousands to waiting lists, overcrowding and homelessness. It also cannot be emphasised strongly enough that services funded by the Supporting People Programme grant deliver better lives whilst saving NHS Wales and Local Authorities money.”   

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