Yesterday (11 October) saw the Welsh Government announcing its plans for the Welsh Language Communities Housing Plan following a recent consultation.
The Welsh Language Commissioner welcomes the Plan and the steps that have already been taken to try to tackle the problem of second homes through the planning and taxation system, and the recent announcement regarding Arfor 2 and its budget of £11 million to develop the economy in Welsh language strongholds.
The Welsh Language Commissioner has specific responsibilities in the field of place names and we will provide advice on the standard forms of Welsh place names as part of the ongoing effort to protect and promote them. We are therefore pleased to see the extension of the work on place names included in the plan, and we look forward to contributing to that work.
In order to realise the aims of the plan in its entirety, however, there is a need to ensure that sufficient funding and resources are made available to deliver the projects highlighted within it. It is also necessary to ensure a robust evaluation structure that can consider the plans individually and as a whole so that they will achieve the objectives for the benefit of Welsh communities and that best practice can be shared among other communities.
As we noted in our response to the consultation, we remain concerned about the pressure and expectations placed on individuals and community groups to bear the burden of implementing the plan’s various elements. There are significant challenges for people to participate in community projects and although guidelines will be available as part of the plan, it is expected that at least one of the projects will be dependent on volunteers.
We are also concerned that the plan does not adequately address the challenge of housing affordability in the communities in question. This will have to be addressed urgently in the proposed white paper regarding the right to suitable accommodation, fair rents and new methods of making homes affordable for those on a local income.
Whilst supporting this crucial first step, we look forward to seeing more detail on the next steps, as well as seeing the work of the Commission for Welsh Speaking Communities develop and the Round Table on the Language, Economy and Housing meeting with its extended remit.
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