(Title Image: Wales Online)
Land Transaction Tax & First Time Buyers
Shadow Housing Minister, David Melding AM (Con, South Wales Central) asked what impact the replacement for stamp duty in Wales – land transaction tax – was having on first-time buyers?
“For properties then between £180,000 and £250,000, which is where the average price in many local authorities now is, first-time buyers will not get full relief; they’ll get a margin of that on the £180,000, but they will not get the same deal that those buyers would get in England.”
– Shadow Housing Minister, David Melding
Minister for Housing & Regeneration, Rebecca Evans (Lab, Gower) said 80% of first-time buyers in Wales don’t pay the tax. The Office of Budgetary Responsibility (OBR) said first-time buyers relief would increase house prices and, therefore, discourage first time buyers.
Unintended consequences of abolishing priority need
Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda) asked what lessons the Welsh Government have learned from a report by Crisis into homelessness which was published following a conference in the summer.
The Housing & Regeneration Minister said the report – which was full of extensive evidence – made it clear that governments should listen to the homeless and support people who have had direct experience of homelessness.
When Leanne Wood brought up a recommendation that “priority need” should be abolished, she asked why the Welsh Government have requested another review instead of implementing the recommendation, which has featured in several homelessness reports down the years.
“Well, we’re looking very seriously at the issue of priority need, and I completely understand where the call is coming from on it, and I am sympathetic to it, but, at the same time, we need to understand any possible unintended consequences. For example, when we look at the situation in Scotland, where they abolished priority need, you find larger groups of people staying for much longer in temporary accommodation, which isn’t something that we would want to see here in Wales.”
– Housing & Regeneration Minister, Rebecca Evans
Support for rural councils
Helen Mary Jones AM (Plaid, Mid & West Wales) asked about Welsh Government support for rural local authorities, whilst accepting a difficult financial settlement.
“Powys is looking at a £14million budget gap for the next financial year, Carmarthenshire has had to make £50million-worth of cuts at the same time as raising its council tax by 22% over the past five years, and citizens in Pembrokeshire are facing a 12% increase in their council tax in the next financial year alone.”
– Helen Mary Jones AM
The Public Services Secretary, Alun Davies (Lab, Blaenau Gwent), returned to what’s become a staple response of accusing opposition AMs of “pitting communities against each other”. The funding formula was endorsed by council representatives and he’s yet to receive any formal request to review it.