We need radical action to address the spiralling housing crisis in Wales

Welsh language sign saying 'Wales is not for sale' and a new apartment development in north wales
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On 25 August, the Welsh government launched a consultation process on the highly controversial subject of how second homes and Airbnb rentals led to a housing crisis in Wales. In its consultation document, the government says it recognises:

the impact that higher numbers of second homes and self-catered holiday lets can have on local housing markets and on the sustainability of local communities

Language campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith (CYI) is furious about the document. The group says that the document is “patronising” and:

belittles Wales’ communities by downplaying the seriousness of the [Welsh housing] crisis.

CYI believes the document needs to go much further. The group says the document needs to be clear and decisive in setting out the “radical steps needed” to deal with the crisis. The government’s consultation process runs until 17 November.

How the housing crisis affects people

As  The Canary previously reported, the crisis means working-class people can’t afford to live in their home communities. And as independence and socialist campaign group Undod told The Canary, working-class people have been “priced out of the market completely”. This happened as a result of second home owners, holiday homes, holiday businesses, and Airbnb taking over communities and inflating house prices.

The housing crisis also has a knock-on effect on local culture and language. Undod believes it’s important to keep people in their communities – otherwise they cut links with their community and family. Life then becomes more expensive. All of this, according to Undod, particularly discriminates against working-class people.

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And this problem isn’t just confined to Wales. Short-term letting through the website Airbnb has increased the price of accommodation across the world and “to the detriment of the indigenous residents”. Additionally, countries like Portugal and Ireland have already started to introduce stricter controls around short-term letting through Airbnb.

What action CYI wants

CYI wants the government to urgently introduce radical measures, such as a cap on second and holiday homes. Additionally, according to the chair of CYI’s Sustainable Communities Group Elin Hywel, the government must regulate Airbnb. It must also introduce taxes on tourism, landlords’ profits, and second homes. This new money would then help bring empty and second homes back for use by local people.

Hywel added that CYI wants a property act so the local community can control the planning process and housing market. It also wants:

a change in the definition of affordable housing, for controls to be introduced on house and rent prices, and for local people to be given priority in the market.

Future action

With its radical plan, CYI believes the answers are there – but the political will is missing. The group already held a housing crisis rally at the Tryweryn dam on 10 July. So, to put further pressure on politicians, it’s taking its message right to the Senedd (Welsh parliament).

CYI will hold a rally on 13 November on the Senedd’s steps. That rally will have one message: Nid yw Cymru Ar Werth – ‘Wales is not for Sale.’ And this time their message will be hard to ignore.

Featured image via YouTube – Foulkes Photography & Creative Commons – Alan Fryer

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