Language campaigners have lambasted the Welsh Government’s response to Cymdeithas yr Iaith's petition in a debate yesterday (17 March) at the Senedd.
In response to the petition, which called for Local Authorities to be given powers to control the housing market, the Welsh Language Minister, Eluned Morgan, suggested that the housing crisis "is not a national problem ... [and] that it is distinctively local”, adding that “there is more to be done, and I'm sure we'll all want to look at this in the next Senedd term.”
Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith's Communities Group, Elin Hywel, said:
"The Minister's wholly inadequate response to the petition shows that the Government is not serious about ensuring that communities can control the housing market for the benefit of the people of Wales. The Minister refers only to the possibility that changes to basic planning laws could be part of the next Government's work programme, which is not good enough: urgent action is needed now to tackle the housing crisis, especially as we approach the summer.
"In suggesting that the housing crisis is a problem for some areas of Wales only, the Minister underplays the severity of the crisis. Whether through ignorance or lack of leadership, this is not correct: it is a national crisis. The housing crisis manifests itself differently in different areas, but it exists across Wales. And the nature of the problem - an open market that prioritises capital rather than homes - means that national intervention from the Welsh Government is urgently needed to tackle the crisis. Without such national intervention on the part of the people of Wales, there is no way we can tackle this crisis.”
“Our attention will now turn to our 'Wales is Not for Sale' rally held at Tryweryn Dam, on Saturday 10th July where we will be challenging the next Government to introduce a Property Act as a priority. Delyth Jewell and Dafydd Iwan will be addressing the rally, and hundreds of supporters - subject to Covid regulations - will form a line across the dam as a symbol of our decision to stop the destruction of our communities."
Plaid Cymru's Member of the Senedd for Arfon, Siân Gwenllian, said during the debate that: “Much of my casework relates to young people living in inappropriate and damp homes and flats, in homes where there are too many people, young families having to share their parents' home, and some, of course, living on the street”, before adding that:
“Cymdeithas yr Iaith say this: 'The open market doesn't work for the benefit of Welsh communities, and this is what's at the heart of this crisis. The only way we can resolve the problem meaningfully will be through legislating to transform housing policy so that it prioritises homes, not capital.' Those are the words of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, and I agree.”