Welsh Conservatives want homes in Wales to be 'more than a refuge'

The Welsh Conservatives will today change the dynamic of the homelessness debate in Wales with the launch of a 10-point action plan to tackle the issue.

 Welsh Conservative Shadow Housing Minister - David Melding CBE AM - has launched the strategy on World Homelessness Day, pledging to put the issue at the forefront of the agenda for a Welsh Conservative Government.

The Welsh Conservative 10-point plan includes:

  1. Legislating to make Housing a basic human right in Wales
  2. Committing to end rough sleeping in Wales by 2026
  3. Launching an ambitious house building programme to build 40,000 new social homes over 10 years
  4. Undertaking an extensive 12-month programme of data collection and analysis into the actual extent of rough sleeping across Wales
  5. Immediately bringing 150 empty social housing properties back into use specifically for military veterans who are at risk of homelessness
  6. Introducing statutory housing and homelessness awareness classes into all secondary schools in Wales
  7. Undertaking post legislative scrutiny of the Housing Act (Wales) 2014 in order to work with the sector to strengthen its implementation and to address homelessness
  8. Working with the UK Government to scrap the Vagrancy Act for England and Wales
  9. Ringfencing the funding for the Supported People Programme Grant for a period of 3 years
  10. Appointing a Homelessness Tsar, ideally someone with lived experience of homelessness.

The action plan was developed in response to research – commissioned by Crisis, and undertaken by the Heriot-Watt University – which found that between 2012 and 2017 the number of people sleeping rough in Wales increased by a shocking 75%, and the number of people sleeping in cars, tents and on public transport increased by 50%.

As part of the 10-point action plan the Welsh Conservatives would make housing a basic human right in law, a move supported by the Chartered institute of Housing Cymru, Shelter Cymru and Tai Pawb. A future Welsh Conservative Government would also ensure that voices of people who are sleeping rough or who are homeless are heard at the highest levels by introducing a “Homelessness Tsar”. The Tsar would be independent of Government, have direct experience of life rough sleeping or homelessness, and would be a significant position with real influence and authority in Welsh Government and wider Welsh Civil Society.

The proposals would also see an end to the demonisation of homeless people and those who are sleeping rough by working with the UK Government to scrap the Vagrancy Act 1824.