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Wales – Housing challenge is facing council

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BLA WALES NEW HOUSING 2018A NEW housing plan setting out the council’s priorities for the next three years has been approved by Torfaen’s cabinet.

Cabinet members approved the new draft Local Housing Strategy for Torfaen at a meeting on Tuesday.

Cllr David Daniels (Pontnewydd ward) told the meeting the need for affordable housing remains one of the biggest challenges facing the authority.

He said: “House prices are now five times higher than the average income in Torfaen meaning home ownership continues to move further and further out of the reach of first time buyers.

“Bearing in mind we live in one of the cheaper places to live in the UK this should be of significant concern.

“These house prices are projected to rise even higher so this does pose a particular issue in Torfaen.”

The number of people registered with the social housing register Homeseeker in the borough is currently 2,544 people.

The service, run by the council and registered social landlords (RSLs) within the borough, receives 58 new applications a week, Cllr Daniels told the meeting.

“That should give you a reflection of the challenges people are facing to get a foothold on affordable housing property,” he added.

Improving the private rented sector has been earmarked as a priority by the council.

With average house prices in Torfaen being around £130,000, many residents are turning to private renting.

But only 8.5 per cent of homes in the borough are offered for private rent.

The new housing strategy also aims to improve the quality and supply of housing and prioritises investment in affordable homes.

There are 375 first-time buyers currently waiting for housing via Help2Own Plus, the council’s low-cost home ownership scheme.

There has also been increasing demand for homelessness assistance.

Cllr Daniels said the council’s housing team has been “working incredibly hard” to tackle the challenges.

In 2017/18, 212 households were provided with financial assistance by the council’s housing financial inclusion team.

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