To submit the report of the Cabinet Member for Housing (attached).
Submitted - a report by the Cabinet Member for Housing requesting that the Council approve the Housing Strategy 2019-2024, confirming the direction and priorities in the field of housing.
During the discussion, the following observations were submitted by individual members:
· The report did not note what proportion of the additional tax collected through the premium on second homes and long term empty properties was being reinvested in order to make a difference in the housing field.
· The reluctance of the Planning Department to allow young people to construct homes in their own villages hindered the Council's vision of supporting all Gwynedd residents to prosper and to live full lives in their communities.
· It would be a good thing for the Council to start constructing social housing once again.
· The fact that the Cabinet Member had taken note of all matters raised by the Care Scrutiny Committee and had incorporated them into the Strategy was welcomed.
· A reference in the Strategy to a construction plan was recognition of the disgraceful decision that had been made to transfer 3,500 Council houses to a private company for free.
· The Cabinet Member was asked to reconsider the following aspects that were missing from the Strategy, and to encompass them in the document:
Ø Although there was recognition that there would be an increase of 60% in the number of people over 80 years old living in Gwynedd in 20 years, there was no mention of people coming to live here from all parts of the United Kingdom and beyond.
Ø There was no mention that the Welsh language was a requirement for a house in some areas.
Ø There was no mention of offering mortgages for local people to buy houses, although this was within the Council's rights, and it would be wise to invest in the county's communities rather than investing in arms companies.
· As the grants available for people to upgrade heating systems in older houses were the subject of a means test, people in employment were not eligible, and pressure should be placed on Welsh Government to ensure that these people, who were just above the threshold, were not ignored.
· All members were witnessing people in their wards struggling to obtain houses and living in unsuitable housing, and that the Strategy was a breath of fresh air through the Council which showed the positive things that could be done to improve the situation of Gwynedd residents.
In response to some of the above observations, the following was noted:
· In accordance with the Financial Strategy adopted by the Council in March, 100% of tax yield on second homes / long term empty properties (namely, approximately £2.7m net after collection cost) went towards housing projects.
· There was a need to change the old mind-set and the old ways of doing things and find solutions to planning matters in order to facilitate housing for young people.
· The housing stock was transferred to a private company in accordance with instruction from Welsh Government at the time.
· Although the new letting policy enabled the Council to place more pressure on local connection, it was currently illegal to discriminate on the grounds of language in Wales.
· In terms of observations regarding immigration and mortgages, the new Housing and Property Department would reconsider everything in the coming year.
· The Minister for Housing had mentioned the possibility of introducing an ambitious programme over 30 years to de-carbonise existing residential housing, and should it happen, it would also solve the problem of heating older houses.
RESOLVED to approve the Housing Strategy for adoption.