How we informed and shaped Senedd debate in April 2022

Poverty Senedd exterior
Image: Senedd
NewsApril 29th, 2022

April 2022 was another high impact month for the Bevan Foundation in the Senedd, gaining many mentions in debates in particular for our work on housing and the LHA. 

On April the 28th, the Senedd held a debate on an opposition motion on the cost of living crisis and housing. This motion was heavily influenced by our recent Wales Housing Crisis: making the LHA work for Wales report, as well as the EHYC’s End Youth Homelessness roadmap. The motion itself called for, amongst other points, the following:

  • To note that, despite the local housing allowance being designed to cover the lowest 30 per cent of households in Wales, only 3.8 per cent of households are actually covered by it.
  • To call on the UK Government to reform the local housing allowance to make it work for Wales.

The debate was led by Plaid Cymru MS, Mabon ap Gwynfor who opened the debate with a direct reference to Bevan Foundation work:

“As pointed out by the Bevan Foundation, one factor that has played a significant role in the emergence of today’s housing crisis, and, in turn, the cost-of-living crisis that we now face, is reforms made to the local housing allowance… Research from the Bevan Foundation shows that, by the autumn of last year and across the 10 local authorities they looked at, only 3.8 per cent of all properties on the market were advertised at rates that were at or below LHA.”

There was additionally support amongst the Conservatives to address the problems with the LHA. As Conservative MS, Janet Finch Saunders, stated:

“I have to say that I am becoming quite concerned by the numbers of people who are not receiving enough money to cover their rent. To me, it’s a fundamental basic right. So, I will certainly be writing to the UK Government to ask it to look at this.”

Plaid Cymru MS, Peredur Owen Griffiths, continued the debate by highlighting our findings on landlord requirements:

“Prospective renters are continually required to jump through more and more hoops, completely at odds with the premise of the right to a home…. such as deposits and guarantors, minimum income requirements, extensive credit checks, references and rent upfront… A third of surveyed properties had such requirements. When you take the 3.8 per cent covered by the local housing authority and add these requirements, only about 2.1 per cent of properties are covered by local housing authorities with excessive requirements. That’s one in 50 properties you can access as a low-income tenant.”

The debate also looked at youth homelessness, the issue of HMOs, and the need for additional provisions for LGBTI+ homeless people. Mabon ap Gwynfor concluded the debate by stating:

“Our motion clearly calls on the UK Government to reform the local housing allowance to make it work for Wales. The UK Government must uprate the local housing allowance annually so it keeps pace with rising rents. It must scrap the shared accommodation local housing allowance rate, with single tenants under 35 being entitled to the one-bedroom LHA rate. The UK Government must play its role, and the Welsh Government must also consider the recommendations made by the Bevan Foundation when it comes to improving data on rents, action on top-up rents, action on rent controls, as well as protecting tenants”

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