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Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Minister doth protest too much

In the One Wales agreement, the Welsh Assembly Government commits to "ensure that the supply of affordable housing increases by at least 6,500 over the next four years". To any neutral observer it is clear that this target refers to a net increase that discounts demolitions and sales. After all even the Government admit that a sale under the right to buy removes a property from the social housing stock.

Figures, provided by the Deputy Minister for Housing in answer to a written question submitted by the Welsh Liberal Democrats show that while there has been 4,235 new affordable properties built as of December 2009, a further 1,900 properties have been either sold or demolished during the same period. This means that at present there has only been an increase in supply of 2,335 properties, only one third of the One Wales target with 15 months to go.

This has not stopped the Government seeking to spin their failure to meet the target as a success. However, when the issue was discussed in Plenary the spin turned to petulance:

Jocelyn Davies:You could do things differently, but what you cannot do from the opposition benches is tell this Government how to collect data or what its pledges mean.

The logic of this is that if Government Minister's are failing to meet their promises then they are entitled to rewrite them and remain above criticism. So much for accountability. If this is what effective scrutiny does to Ministers then we need more of it.
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