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“Removing the statutory duty to rehouse ex-prisoners belies government’s own research”


Responding to the publication of the Housing Bill, Peter Black, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Housing Minister commented:

"No-one could disagree with the aims of tackling homelessness, improving conditions in private rented homes and providing more housing. However, there are some serious problems with this proposed Bill.

"The Welsh Labour Government's decision to remove the statutory duty to rehouse ex-prisoners is a serious misstep in my view. This proposal is being made for purely populist reasons and belies the evidence in the government's own research, published in 2008, that concluded that housing issues are a major factor in the decision of 75% of ex-prisoners to re-offend. That report suggested that more joined up thinking is needed to prevent re-offending.

"My concern is that without the statutory duty underpinning that work and with the new emphasis on vulnerability, councils will just not bother to do the work and reoffending rates, which are already higher than those in England, will rise further.

"The move to register letting agents is a long overdue and necessary measure. However the proposal to force all private landlords to also register may prove to be resource-intensive.

"I very much welcome the ability of Councils to increase council tax on long-term empty homes. This was an idea first mooted by the Welsh Liberal Democrats and would enable councils to use the measure as a stick to force landlords to bring these homes back into use. It would also provide some recompense to the community who have had to put up with the blight of this empty home.

"The ambition to end family homelessness is worthwhile and should be supported. Nonetheless, a line in an Assembly Act cannot stop somebody's home being repossessed or even a family being without a permanent home for a short period of time. The key here is not to raise unfounded hopes and I will be looking to the text of the bill to ensure that we understand what exactly the Minister is hoping to achieve and how he plans to do it."


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