The Welsh Liberal Democrats Housing Spokesperson, Peter Black, has called on the Welsh Labour Government to use the last week of the Assembly term to focus on tackling the growing gap between England and Wales in terms of help offered to first time buyers to get onto the housing ladder.Mr. Black was speaking in the light of figures from Shelter that show in some parts of Wales young people are waiting up to 15 years before being able to afford to buy their own home.
Evidence to the Assembly's Communities Committee from the National Federation of Builders Wales, the Federation of Master Builders Wales and the Home Builders Federation all made it clear that the main obstacle to new house building in Wales was the lack of access to mortgage finance.
New housing completions in. 2006-07 reached a peak at 9,334. This declined to a low of 5,505 in 2010-11 and recovered a little to 5,464 in 2012-13.
"The failure of the Welsh Labour Government to get Newbuy Cymru off the ground has left Wales at a major disadvantage compared to England," said Mr. Black.
"The Welsh Labour Government cannot do everything but it can provide selective assistance to stimulate the market and to ensure that there is a level playing field on both sides of Offa's Dyke. That is something that successive Welsh Labour Ministers have signally failed to do over a period of a year or more.
"We are still awaiting an announcement from the Minister on details of the Welsh Government's Shared Equity Scheme, the revival of their mortgage guarantee scheme, and how they will be using the financial transactions money passed onto Wales as part of the Barnett consequential from a previous UK spending review.
"Initiatives such as the Property Development Fund and the Houses into Homes scheme that benefitted from the Welsh Liberal Democrats budget deal are welcome but they do not constitute a complete package of aid to help people buy their first homes.
"In addition, as was made clear from last week's committee session, the uncertainty created by consultations on sprinklers and changes to building regulations, which together could add costs of up to £7,500 per dwelling, is also affecting investor confidence. The Minister needs to make clear what his intentions are on both of these issues as soon as possible.
"The Minister has said that he will set up a housing supply task force that is due to report in February 2014. However, the time for talking and analysis has passed. What we need now is action.
"That means that the Minister must make some quick decisions to enable us to go into recess with a sense of direction and concrete action on at least some of the issues that are being raised by house builders and those seeking to buy a home."
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