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Section highlightThe People’s NHS Part of an initiative to engage the public in creating a safe and sustainable health service for the future.
Spreading the word »Action on the ground to increase learning materials in the medium of Welsh.Learn more »
First Minister’s call for action on the Welsh language
People from across Wales with an interest in the Welsh language are being asked to take action on its future in a national online conversation.
- Local Government Democracy Bill approved
- Minister welcomes report which could change shape and structure of education delivery in Wales for the better
- First Minister’s call for action on the Welsh language
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Welsh languageWelsh-language technology and digital media action plan
The action plan sets out our commitment to drive developments in the field of Welsh-language technology and digital media.Learn more »
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Section highlightAccess to information
The Welsh Government has followed the principles of openness in government for many years. Find out how you can make a freedom of information request or see requests that have already been made.
The Strategy for Older People in Wales 2013-2023 »The 3rd phase focuses on ensuring that older people in Wales have the resources to deal with the challenges and opportunities they face.Learn more »
- A new vision for a National Youth Work Strategy
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Featured consultation »Improving access to substance misuse treatment for veterans
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Section highlightIndex of Planning Policy Guidance for Wales
Our land use planning policy guidance is set out in two core documents, "Planning Policy Wales" and "Minerals Planning Policy Wales".
Legislative programme 2012 - 2013 »
Addressing the Assembly in the Senedd today, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, detailed the eight bills in the Welsh Government’s 5-year Legislative Programme that will be brought forward during the second year of the Welsh Assembly.Learn more »
Section highlightCommunity Infrastructure Levy
Local authorities can charge a Community Infrastructure Levy on new developments to support the infrastructure needed.
Infrastructure Investment Case Studies »
Examples of infrastructure investment projects funded by the Welsh Government across Wales.Learn more »
Oral - Homelessness
I know that homelessness is an issue of great concern to all Members. My statement today is a welcome opportunity to update you on developments and progress. In March last year, I brought to you the draft homelessness plan, fulfilling a commitment in ‘One Wales’. Your support for the policy direction in the plan was shared by most of the respondents to our public consultation, following which further amendments were made in order to strengthen its scope and clarity. I was pleased to launch our 10-year homelessness plan last July. The plan sets out a clear vision for action to minimise homelessness in Wales. The emphasis is on prevention, which means doing everything that we can to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place. The plan is the result of co-operation between the Assembly Government, local authorities, and the third and private sectors. It is a solid foundation for joint action. Action that cuts across organisational boundaries is needed to tackle this issue effectively.
I am pleased to say that the policies of this Government are having a positive impact on homelessness in Wales. Local authority returns show a fall of 17 per cent in the headline homelessness figure since we came into office. That is the outcome of our support for local authorities to intensify their efforts to prevent homelessness, despite the difficult housing market conditions. It is particularly welcome to note the reduction of 11 per cent in the use of temporary accommodation for homeless households, and a decline of 14 per cent in the numbers of households in bed-and-breakfast hostels. These figures are encouraging, but we must guard against complacency. Last July, I launched our mortgage rescue action plan, which complements our successful mortgage rescue scheme. This scheme has been a response to the very real hardship created by the current economic conditions, and has proved to be the most effective such scheme in the United Kingdom. By the end of November last year we had approved 215 applications, helping 418 adults and 227 children to remain in their homes. This year I increased funding to £9.5 million for the current financial year to achieve this success, and I have already allocated £5 million for 2010-11. While I will consider the need to identify further resources for this programme next year, I cannot continue to prioritise the mortgage rescue scheme indefinitely.
Mortgage rescue links to one of the main causes of homelessness, which is debt. Our homelessness plan is closely linked to the new financial inclusion strategy, which recognises the need for improved access to financial and debt advice. That is why I agreed with Brian Gibbons, when he was Minister for Social Justice and Local Government, to provide joint funding for a new housing debt helpline service.
Tackling financial exclusion is one of the most important ways that we can give people the skills and knowledge that they need to avoid homelessness. However, for some people homelessness is part of a cycle that links to other long-term social problems, such as unemployment, substance misuse, and mental health problems. We are already doing a great deal through our Supporting People and homelessness grant programmes to support local services to meet people’s underlying needs.
As a result of our homelessness plan, everyone who is at risk of homelessness should have a full assessment of their needs. That assessment should be linked to the services that can help them overcome their difficulties and sustain their homes. These connections include training, employment support, access to healthcare and support, or information on financial services, as well as advice on housing options. These are some of the priorities for the use of our resources to tackle homelessness in future.
In some cases homelessness cannot be averted. Where this happens we must ensure that services are designed to help people through this crisis as soon as possible. In the most extreme cases, people end up sleeping rough, and we must ensure that there are alternatives available to prevent this happening.
You are all aware of the current financial environment, and this obviously constrains the resources that we can apply to meet our objectives. The emphasis must be on making better use of the substantial resources that we are already committing to this area. This must include making best use of the private rented sector, which, with the help of our funding for bond and social lettings schemes, is playing an increasing role in helping vulnerable people to find the accommodation they need.
Homelessness remains a priority for this Government, and I am delighted that, in the final budget, we have an additional £1.05 million to tackle this problem. I want this to be used to improve access to advice on breaking cycles of homelessness. During this Government’s term we have remained committed to our ‘One Wales’ resolution to increase our Supporting People funding. In December last year, I announced a review of housing-related support to ensure that we are making the most effective use of these resources, and I expect this review to be completed by the autumn.
I believe that we have made good progress in partnership with other organisations. We have set a clear direction for our work to tackle the underlying causes of homelessness, which themselves are linked to other social problems. That said, I realise that there is much more to do and we will continue to push forward on developments.