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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The on-going fiasco of the government's housing LCO

The One Wales Government opened another chapter on their abortive attempt to gain powers over affordable housing today when they announced that they are going back to the drawing board and starting from scratch.

The previous attempt to draw down powers was introduced just under two years ago and was heavily criticised by Welsh Liberal Democrats and the legislative scrutiny committee for its lack of ambition. It was scuppered when the Secretary of State for Wales took up the suggestion of a Plaid Cymru Special Advisor and inserted a veto for himself in the instrument, meaning that any attempt to abolish the right to buy would require UK Government consent.

A joint committee of both Houses of Parliament determined that this clause might be ultra vires and as a result the Liberal Democrats in the Lords, led by former Brecon and Radnor MP, Richard Livsey called it in for debate on the floor of the House. It was quickly pulled altogether.

Now the Government has tried again and this time they have taken our advice and gone for a broader approach. They are now seeking the widest possible powers to preserve the stock of affordable housing, to modernise social housing and to enable councils and other bodies to deliver the maximum possible number of affordable homes.

Perhaps this time they will listen more and work with the opposition to get it right. After all, it has been two years and we have got nowhere. It is little wonder that the Deputy Minister told Radio Wales earlier today that the system does not work but, as I have said previously, she must bear some of the blame too for not being ambitious enough in the first place.
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