Leanne Wood has called for a “revolution in housing” and promised that as First Minister she would introduce measures to stop local people being priced out of rural communities.
The package includes proposals for councils to directly address local housing demand on a needs basis and new progressive tax measures.
The aim of the comprehensive housing plan is to allow councils to eliminate social housing waiting lists within a decade and enable Wales to become a world leader in the emerging industry of sustainable, low-impact and eco-friendly housing. The proposals include new measures for councils to establish non-permanent housing that could be taken down or moved to other locations as demand changes over time.
The Plaid Cymru Leader also called for the Welsh Parliament to have powers over inheritance tax so that a system resembling National Insurance could be introduced where the amount paid would be linked to the amount of time an individual has spent living and working in Wales before retirement. The new system would be weighted in favour of people who have actively contributed to the local economy.
On launching the policy proposals, Leanne Wood said:
“Successive Westminster and Welsh governments have failed to build sufficient new housing and the result is an economy that is propped up by artificially high house prices. Ordinary people remain trapped trying to pay unaffordable rents and mortgages.
“In large areas of our country young families are priced out of housing by wealthier property owners, often moving into rural areas at the end of their working lives. This ‘gentrification’ is crippling in Wales’s rural communities where young people are forced to find housing and work elsewhere. With the next generation being pushed out of our rural communities damage is being done to our economy, the Welsh language and our communities as a whole.
“Becoming an independent nation depends on us being able to build a sustainable rural economy in Wales. That means a Plaid Cymru government must work with local authorities to ensure everyone can access suitable and affordable housing in their own communities, rather than leaving such important matters to the whims of developers who are only out to make a quick profit.
“We would also explore ways in which inheritance tax on property can be linked to the amount of time someone has lived and worked in Wales – so that those who have contributed to our society and economy the most would carry the burden least and have something to pass on to their children in the community they have served.
“It isn’t complicated and it isn’t controversial – housing for local people must be a right rather than a privilege.”