The Welsh Government's housing department has been branded a "massive mess" as new figures show a steep rise in the risk of homelessness across Wales.

Jane Dodds, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, has accused Labour of "dragging its feet" on enforcing protections for renters, criticised its decision not to ban "no-fault" evictions, and called for "strong action" from both Westminster and Cardiff Bay to prevent the crisis deepening this winter.

The comments come as official data published on Thursday showed that the number of Welsh households threatened with eviction had jumped by more than a quarter between 2021-2022.

The number of households placed in temporary accommodation - B&Bs, for example, or hostels - also rose. The goverment this week announced more than £60m to build, or adapt, 1,000 homes to provide accommodation to address the issue.

Just 34 percent of homeless households in Wales were successfully helped to secure accommodation - five percent less than between 2020-2021, and seven percent less than between 2019-2020.

"These figures are extremely alarming," Ms Dodds said.

"For the number of households at risk of becoming homeless to rise by almost 30 percent in just twelve months is shocking.

“A factor in this is almost certainly the skyrocketing inflation we are witnessing right now - with food and energy bills increasing so much, it is not surprising that families are struggling to make ends meet.


“These rapid price rises have caused families to be hit by severe financial instability, with poorer households shown to be bearing the brunt."

The rate of inflation - a measure of rises in everyday living costs - currently sits at a forty-year high of 9.4 percent, and is expected to climb to 11 percent by October.

This week, a Snapshot of Poverty report by the Bevan Foundation thinktank found that the majority of people in Wales were cutting back on essentials like water, electricity and food to cope with spiralling prices - with renters, low-income households and disabled people affected most severely.

“The Conservative Party at Westminster has utterly failed to introduce the level of support needed to prevent this suffering," Ms Dodds added.

"Instead, they are busy fighting an internal war and discussing cuts to corporation tax.

“The Welsh Labour Government has not got clean hands in this crisis either.

"The decision made by Welsh Labour to delay renting reforms in Wales is likely contributing to housing insecurity.

"Rather than ban no-fault evictions like England and Scotland, Labour has chosen to simply increase the notice period from two to six months, with even this limited action being delayed."

"No fault evictions" are so-called because they take place when a tenant is not at fault. Usually it means that the landlord wants to sell up, or rent to someone else.

The practice was banned in Scotland in 2017 - with some exceptions - and the UK Government has pledged to follow during this Parliamentary term.

Here in Wales though, the government has instead opted to increase the notice period for these evictions, ultimately still allowing them to go ahead.

Part of the severely delayed Renting Homes Act, this change was due to take effect in July - but has now been further pushed back to December, almost seven years after the law was first passed in 2016.

It is feared the delay in introducing the new protections could lead to a rush in no fault evictions between now and December, though this has been dismissed by the Welsh Government.

Even then, the new notice period will only apply to new tenancies - meaning renters on contracts that predate December 2022 will still only get two months to find somewhere else to live if they're served with a no-fault eviction notice.


Referencing the cases of an 85 year-old Saundersfoot grandmother and a couple in Rhymney, Cardiff, who were each handed no-fault eviction notices in recent months, Ms Dodds added: "Tenants in Wales deserve the same rights as those in England and Scotland, and the rise in no-fault evictions we have seen is extremely concerning.

"No one should be evicted from their home without good reason, and the cases that have been highlighted in the press this week are extremely disturbing.

“Something is clearly going very wrong in the Housing Department in the Welsh Government.

“Welsh Labour need to get a hold of what quite simply looks to be a massive mess."

The National understands that the Liberal Democrats are in favour of scrapping no-fault evictions, though no reference was made to this policy in the party's 2021 Welsh election manifesto.

Meanwhile, they have urged Plaid Cymru to "push [the Welsh Government] much harder" on the housing pledges made as part of its cooperation deal with Welsh Labour.

A spokesperson for Plaid responded: "It is thanks to Plaid Cymru that key policies – from tackling the housing crisis to feeding our school children and building the nation – are now being implemented by the Welsh Government.

“Since the Cooperation Agreement was signed less than eight months ago, we have already made a positive difference in tackling the housing crisis by taking radical and immediate action on second homes and holiday lets, and there is more to come in the form of a White Paper on Property and Fair Rents which will offer a comprehensive package to renters.”

The Welsh Government said: "We believe that everybody has a right to a decent, affordable home and are committed to supporting the housing sector during this period of significant demand."

“Between providing help to those fleeing Ukraine and working hard to provide accommodation for everyone who needed it during the pandemic, we have successfully helped thousands of people into accommodation over the last two-and-a-half years.

“With a need for more high-quality interim accommodation options, we have just announced £65m of funding to support local authorities and registered social landlords create much-needed extra housing capacity.

“This will help ease the pressure on housing services in the medium term and is on top of our commitment to deliver 20,000 new low carbon homes for rent in the social sector during this government term.”

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