Y Pwyllgor Llywodraeth Leol a Thai

Local Government and Housing Committee

09/03/2022

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Alun Davies AS
Carolyn Thomas AS
Joel James AS
John Griffiths AS Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Mabon ap Gwynfor AS
Sam Rowlands AS

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Douglas Haig Cyfarwyddwr Anweithredol, Cymdeithas Genedlaethol y Landlordiaid Preswyl
Non-executive Director, National Residential Landlords' Association
Ffrancon Williams Prif Weithredwr, Adra
Chief Executive, Adra
Jonathan Morrison Cynrychiolydd Grŵp Home Owners of Wales
Representing the Home Owners of Wales Group
Karen Holt Partneriaeth Tai Bro Machno
Bro Machno Housing Partnership
Keith Henson Hwylusydd Tai Gwledig, Barcud
Rural Housing Enabler, Barcud
Lowri Williams Uwch-swyddog Polisi, Comisiynydd y Gymraeg
Senior Policy Officer, Welsh Language Commissioner
Mabli Jones Cadeirydd, Cymdeithas yr Iaith
Chair, Cymdeithas yr Iaith
Yr Athro Rhys Jones Adran Daearyddiaeth a Gwyddorau Daear, Prifysgol Aberystwyth
Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University
Ruth Richards Prif Weithredwr, Dyfodol i’r Iaith
Chief Executive, Dyfodol i’r Iaith
Shan Lloyd Williams Prif Weithredwr, Grŵp Cynefin
Chief Executive, Grŵp Cynefin

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Catherine Hunt Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Chloe Davies Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Jonathan Baxter Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Manon George Clerc
Clerk
Osian Bowyer Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Stephen Davies Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Cyfarfu’r pwyllgor yn y Senedd a thrwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:00.

The committee met in the Senedd and by video-conference.

The meeting began at 09:00.

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest

Welcome, everyone, to this meeting of the Local Government and Housing Committee. We are back in the bay for the first time for a while, but in hybrid format with one Member, Mabon ap Gwynfor, joining us remotely, and all witnesses but one joining us remotely. So, it's hybrid proceedings today.

The first item on our agenda is introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest. We haven't received any apologies or substitutions. Are there any declarations of interest? Mabon.

Dim ond i ddatgan yr hyn sydd ar y record gyhoeddus yn fy nghylch i, os gwelwch yn dda. 

I would just refer you to my register of interests. 

Diolch yn fawr. No others? No. Well, welcome everyone to the meeting. As I said, it's being held in hybrid format. Apart from the adaptations relating to conducting proceedings in that hybrid way, all other Standing Order requirements remain in place. The public items of this meeting are being broadcast live on Senedd.tv and the Record of Proceedings will be published as usual. The meeting is bilingual and simultaneous translation is available. 

2. Ymchwiliad i ail gartrefi: sesiwn dystiolaeth 5—y Gymraeg
2. Inquiry into second homes: evidence session 5—Welsh language

Item 2 on our agenda today is a continuation of the committee's inquiry into second homes and our fifth evidence session, dealing with Welsh language. We have various supporting papers from our evidence givers. We will be focusing on the Welsh language perspective to further inform our inquiry into second homes. So, I'm very pleased to welcome Ruth Richards, chief executive of Dyfodol i'r Iaith, Mabli Siriol Jones, cadeirydd Cymdeithas yr Iaith, Lowri Williams, senior policy officer with the Welsh Language Commissioner, and Professor Rhys Jones from the department of geography and earth sciences at Aberystwyth University. And can I just particularly thank Lowri Williams of the Welsh Language Commissioner's office for joining us today, given the very sad death of Aled Roberts just a few weeks ago? We very much as a committee valued the evidence that Aled gave us on various occasions, and I'd very much like to extend the committee's condolences to all at the Welsh Language Commissioner's office. So, thank you very much, Lowri, because obviously they are difficult circumstances to provide evidence within. 

Okay, let me begin by asking some initial general questions and, firstly, on Dr Brooks's report and recommendations, and the extent to which you think those recommendations recognise the impact of holiday homes—second homes and short-term lets—on the use of the Welsh language as a community language, and particularly in the rural and coastal areas of Wales. Who would like to begin? 

A allaf i ddweud rhywbeth yn glou, os caf i, Gadeirydd? Rwyf eisiau cyfeirio at hynny'n glou achos mae'r term 'iaith gymunedol' yn cael ei ddefnyddio'n aml, yn gyffredinol, wrth gwrs, ac yng nghyd-destun y cwestiynau ac adroddiad Simon Brooks, ond rwy'n credu bod angen i ni feddwl, efallai, beth rŷm ni'n ei ddeall gan y term 'iaith gymunedol' a beth rŷm ni'n ei ddeall o'r syniad o gymuned hefyd. Mae yna oblygiadau fan hyn ynglŷn â'r mater penodol o dai hefyd, achos rwy'n credu ein bod ni'n tueddol efallai o ddeall lot o'r drafodaeth yma drwy'r syniad o gymuned fach iawn—pentref yw'r ddelfryd. Pentref gwledig, bron â bod, yw'r ddelfryd yna sy'n bwydo mewn i'n dychymyg ni pan fyddwn ni'n sôn am y Gymraeg fel iaith gymunedol. Rydyn ni hefyd, efallai, yn meddwl am gymuned sydd yn gaeedig o bosibl—yn weddol gaeedig—ac efallai gymuned sydd yn statig a ddim yn newid. Byddwn i efallai yn annog i ni feddwl a ydy hwnna'n adlewyrchu siẁd mae pobl yn byw eu bywydau go iawn, siẁd mae pobl yn defnyddio'r Gymraeg yn eu bywydau go iawn, mewn ffyrdd lle maen nhw'n symud o un lle i'r llall ac yn defnyddio'r iaith Gymraeg mewn sawl lle y tu fas i ble maen nhw'n cysgu'n y nos.

Mae hwnna, efallai, yn gwneud i ni feddwl amboutu'r syniad o'r hawl i fyw adre. Beth yw'r 'adre' yn y cyd-destun yna? Ydy e'n golygu y lle ble maen nhw wedi cael eu magu, wedi cael eu geni, ac ati, neu a oes angen i ni feddwl am ardal ehangach pan fyddwn ni'n meddwl am dai fforddiadwy, pan fyddwn ni'n meddwl am yr hawl i brynu tai ac i gael mynediad i dai? Mae'n bwynt cyffredinol achos mae'n bwydo i mewn i lot fawr o'r ystyriaethau ynglŷn â thai lleol ar gyfer pobl leol a beth yw'r syniad o iaith gymunedol.

Wel, mae eisiau i ni fod yn ofalus nad ŷn ni'n dychmygu rhyw fath o fywyd oedd yn bodoli nôl yn y 1950au, efallai, a bod angen i ni feddwl am ddarpariaeth dai ar gyfer y ffordd mae pobl yn byw heddiw, efallai sy'n golygu nad ŷn nhw'n mynd i allu cael, o bosibl—ac efallai fod hwn yn rhywbeth eithaf pryfoclyd—dŷ yn eu pentref genedigol, ond efallai yn eu hardal leol, yn fwy cyffredinol felly, yn y sir, o bosibl.

If I could make a brief comment, with your permission, Chair. I want to refer to this because the term 'community language' is often used in general terms and in the context of questions and Simon Brooks's report, and I think we need to understand what we mean by 'community language' and what we mean by this concept of community. There are implications for the specific issue of housing here, because I do think that we tend to focus this discussion around a concept of a very small community, a village. A rural village, almost, is the idyll that feeds into our consciousness when we talk about the Welsh language as a community language. We are perhaps thinking about a community that may be relatively isolated, and perhaps static and unchanging. I would encourage us to consider whether that actually reflects how people live their lives on a daily basis, how people use the Welsh language in their daily lives, in ways where they move from one place to another and use the Welsh language in many different contexts, beyond where they sleep at night.

That, perhaps, makes us think about the right to live at home. What is 'home' in that context? Does it mean the place where they were born and brought up, or do we need to think about a broader area when we think about affordable homes and the right to buy homes or have access to homes? So, it's a general point, because it feeds into many of the considerations around local housing for local people and what we mean by 'community language'.

We need to be careful that we don't look back to a way of life that existed in the 1950s, perhaps, but rather that we think about housing provision appropriate to the way in which people live today, which will mean—and this is perhaps quite provocative—they may not be able to get a house in the village of their birth, but they could do so in their local area, or county, perhaps. 

09:05

Ie. Pwynt diddorol, Rhys. Roeddech chi'n dweud dŷn ni ddim eisiau tai yn y ffordd roedd pobl yn byw yn y 1950au; rydyn ni eisiau tai ar gyfer sut mae pobl yn byw heddiw. Buaswn i'n meddwl bod gan fy mam a fy nhad i, fy mam-gu a fy nhad-cu i, yn y 1950au yn union yr un anghenion ag sydd gen i heddiw, a fy mhlant heddiw. Rwy eisiau tŷ dwi'n gallu fforddio, dwi eisiau byw ynddo fe, yn y pentref neu'r gymuned o le dwi'n dod. Dyw hynny ddim yn rhywbeth amserol o'r gorffennol, surely.

Yes. An interesting point, Rhys. You said that we don't need homes in the way that we understood them with regard to the 1950s; we need to adapt to the way people live today. I would think that my parents, and grandparents, in the 1950s, had exactly the same needs as I have today, and my children have today. I need a home that I can afford, I want to live in, and in the village or the community that I come from. That isn't a transient thing from the past, surely.

Dyw e ddim, dwi'n credu. Ond, os ydyn ni'n meddwl am rywle fel—. Os ydyn ni'n mynd â'r syniad yma i'r pegwn, efallai, yna byddwn i'n dweud, olréit, cymerwch pentref Tal-y-bont tu fas i Aberystwyth, rhyw 8 milltir o Aberystwyth. Un ffordd o feddwl am yr angen i gael yr hawl i fyw adref yw bod angen i bobl sydd wedi cael eu magu yn Nhal-y-bont i allu byw yn Nhal-y-bont. Mae eisiau i nhw allu byw eu bywydau bron â bod, os ydych chi'n moyn, yn gyfan gwbl yn Nhal-y-bont, o ran addysg, o ran cymdeithasu, a dyna beth yw—. Ambell waith, os nad ydyn ni'n ofalus amboutu'r iaith gymunedol, mae'n gallu rhoi rhyw fath o syniad o ryw fath o gymuned eithaf caeedig a fel byddai pobl wedi byw yn y gorffennol, o bosibl.

Mae pobl sy'n byw yn Nhal-y-bont, ac efallai sydd wedi cael eu magu yn Nhal-y-bont, yn symud i fyw i Aberystwyth, neu maen nhw'n symud i fyw i bentrefi cyfagos. Maen nhw'n mynd â'u plant i ysgol yn Nhal-y-bont o bosibl, ac mae lot o nhw'n dod mewn â'u plant i'r ysgol o Dal-y-bont i Aberystwyth, hyd yn oed yn yr ysgol gynradd. Yn sicr, yn yr ysgol uwchradd, maen nhw'n gorfod dod mewn i Aberystwyth. Nawr, ydy'n syniad ni o iaith gymunedol yn ein galluogi ni i ddeall y ffordd fwy cyfoes yma o fyw, lle mae pobl yn fwy symudol, yn fwy mobile, ac felly beth yw goblygiadau hynny ar gyfer y syniad o hawl i fyw adref ac ar gyfer tai a'r syniad o'r cysylltiad yma rhwng tai ac iaith gymunedol? Os ydyn ni, efallai, yn gorfod ailystyried beth yw'n dealltwriaeth ni o iaith gymunedol, ac mae'r Llywodraeth yn dechrau gwneud hynny yng nghyd-destun polisi iaith, yna byddwn i'n meddwl bod yna oblygiadau yn fanna ar gyfer ein dealltwriaeth ni o ble mae'r tai yna'n gorfod bod er mwyn galluogi'r iaith gymunedol yna i gael ei pharhau.

It's not. But, if we think of somewhere like—. If we take this idea to an extreme, perhaps, I would say look at the village of Tal-y-bont outside of Aberystwyth, some 8 miles from Aberystwyth. One way of thinking about the need to have the right to live at home is that people who have been brought up in Tal-y-bont should be able to live in Tal-y-bont. They should be able to live their lives almost entirely in Tal-y-bont, in terms of education, socialising, and so on and so forth. If we're not careful about this concept of community language, it can give us an idea of quite a closed community, in the way that people might have lived in the past.

People living in Tal-y-bont these days, having perhaps been brought up in Tal-y-bont, move to Aberystwyth, or they move to nearby villages. They'll take their children to a school in Tal-y-bont, but many will take their children to school in Aberystwyth, even in primary school. Certainly, in secondary school, they have to go to Aberystwyth. So, does our idea of a community language enable us to understand this more contemporary lifestyle, where people are more mobile, and what are the implications of that for the concept of the right to live at home and for housing and this relationship between housing and community language? If we have to reconsider our understanding of community language, and the Government is starting to do so in the context of language policy, then I would think that there would be implications there for our understanding of where those homes should be in order to enable that community language to persist.

Jest i ymateb i rai o'r pwyntiau yna, dwi'n meddwl y byddai ein diffiniad ni fel cymdeithas yr iaith o'r Gymraeg fel iaith gymunedol ddim yn golygu ei chyfyngu hi i unrhyw gymuned neu unrhyw ardal yn benodol. I ni, iaith Cymru gyfan yw'r Gymraeg, ble bynnag dŷch chi'n byw yn y wlad, ac mae angen i bobl allu byw eu bywydau drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg ym mhob man. Wrth gwrs, dwi ddim yn meddwl bod unrhyw un yn moyn cyfyngu ar symudedd pobl. Y broblem yw mai'r gwrthwyneb sydd gennym ni ar hyn o bryd, lle mae bron â bod yn amhosib i lot o bobl, yn enwedig pobl ifanc, allu aros yn eu cymunedau nhw, ac i greu eu bywydau a chael cartref fforddiadwy o safon yn y gymuned yna. Felly, dŷn ni eisiau gweld cymunedau cryf Cymraeg ym mhob rhan o'r wlad, ac mae'r pwnc sydd dan sylw heddiw yn rhywbeth sy'n bygwth hynny.

Ac i fynd yn ôl i'r cwestiwn gwreiddiol, yn sicr mae'r adroddiad ei hun yn un gwerthfawr sydd wedi gwneud cyfraniad da i'r drafodaeth ynghylch y pwnc yma. Dwi'n meddwl mai ein pryder ni yw y ffordd mae'r Llywodraeth, a hefyd, efallai, yn rhannol y drafodaeth gyhoeddus ehangach, yn tueddu wedyn i gyfyngu y mesurau a'r ystyriaeth jest i'r cwestiwn o ail dai a llety gwyliau, sydd yn amlwg yn broblem fawr; mae'n broblem rŷn ni wedi bod yn tynnu sylw ati hi ers degawdau nawr. Ond mae'n rhan o broblemau ehangach yn y system dai i gyd, sy'n effeithio ar gymunedau ar draws y wlad, a thu hwnt i Gymru wrth gwrs. A dŷn ni ddim yn meddwl bod modd ymdrin â'r broblem yma ar phen ei hun a'i thrin ar wahân, rili, i rai o'r problemau ehangach a mwy sylfaenol hynny. 

Yes. Just to respond to some of those points. I think that our definition, as Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, of the Welsh language as a community language wouldn't mean restricting or limiting it to any one community or area. It's a language for the whole of Wales, wherever you live in the nation, and people need to be able to live their lives through the medium of Welsh everywhere. Of course, I don't think anybody wants to limit or restrict people's movement. It's the opposite problem that we have at the moment, where it's almost impossible for many people, particularly young people, to remain in their communities, and to live their lives and to have an affordable, good-quality home in those communities. So, we want to see robust Welsh communities in all parts of the country, and the issue at hand today is something that threatens that. 

And to return to the original question that you asked, certainly the report itself is a very valuable one that has made an important contribution to the debate with regard to this issue. I think our concern is the way that the Government, and partly, perhaps, the wider public debate, tends to limit the measures and the consideration just to this question of second homes and holiday accommodation, which is clearly a major problem; it's a problem that we have been drawing attention to for decades now. But it is part of a wider set of problems in the housing system as a whole, which impact communities across the nation, and beyond Wales of course. And we don't think that we can deal with this problem on its own and separately to some of the wider and more fundamental problems. 

09:10

Diolch yn fawr, Mabli. Any other witnesses want to come in on these points at this stage? No. Okay. The next question from me then really is about the Welsh Government's objectives, and to what extent you think they're sufficiently clear. Who would like to begin? Okay, Lowri. 

Diolch i chi. Dwi'n meddwl ei bod hi'n dod yn gynyddol gliriach, wrth i ni gael mwy a mwy o ymgynghoriadau sydd yn ymateb i ddogfen Dr Brooks, beth ydy'r amcan. Ond dwi'n meddwl efallai fod angen rhagor o eglurder hefyd—hynny ydy, ai sefydlogi'r sefyllfa, rheoli'r sefyllfa? Beth ydy'r weledigaeth dymor hir mewn gwirionedd? A dwi'n meddwl, i fynd yn ôl i bwynt roedd Mabli yn ei wneud, dydy'r elfen yna o fynd yn ôl i'r broblem sylfaenol sy'n cael ei hachosi gan ail gartrefi a chartrefi gwyliau, dydy'r strategaeth o ran hynny ddim eto yn gwbl eglur—hynny ydy, fforddiadwyedd cartrefi/tai mewn cymunedau.

Felly, o ran yr elfennau cyntaf, ie, mynd i'r afael efo'r rhan drethu a chynllunio, ond mae'n dod yn gynyddol amlycach y byddai rhagor o eglurhad am y weledigaeth dymor hir i'w groesawu, ac, fel dwi'n dweud, yr ail elfen yna ydy'r un dwi'n meddwl lle mae angen rhagor o eglurder yn ei chylch hi. 

Thank you. I think it's becoming increasingly apparent, as we see more consultations in response to Dr Brook's report, what the objectives are. But I do think that we need greater clarity too. Is it about stabilising the situation, managing the situation? What's the long-term vision? And to return to a point that Mabli made, as regards that element of returning to that fundamental problem caused by holiday lets and second homes, the strategy in that context isn't entirely clear—the affordability of homes/houses in communities.

So, in terms of the first elements, yes, tackling issues around rates and planning, but it's becoming increasingly apparent that having greater clarity on the long-term vision would be welcome, and that that second element is the point where we need greater clarity. 

Okay. Diolch yn fawr. A further question from me, before we move on to other committee members, and that's really on the scale—. Sorry, did somebody—? Ruth, sorry, did you want to come in on that point?

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Jest pwynt cyffredinol sydd yn ategu'r hyn y mae Mabli a Lowri wedi ei ddweud—hynny yw, mae hwn yn fater ehangach nag ail gartrefi yn unig. Mae yna gyd-destun economaidd iddo fo, ac mae'r her o ran cydweithio yn mynd i fod yn aruthrol. Mae rhywun yn falch iawn bod hynny wedi cael ei ddatgan. Hefyd, wrth gwrs, o gymryd y darlun ehangach, mae hwn yn waith tymor hir, ac mae o'n waith sydd yn mynd i alw am ymrwymiad ac, yn sicr, buddsoddiad tymor hir. Buaswn i jest eisiau nodi, fel mudiad, roedden ni'n siomedig gyda chyllideb y Llywodraeth yn ddiweddar. Mae angen cyllideb, mae angen buddsoddi ac mae angen ymrwymiad tymor hir i hyn, ac mae angen ryw strwythur o sicrhau hynny os ydyn ni'n mynd i fwrw ymlaen. Wedi dweud hynna, un peth dwi'n siŵr ydy ein bod ni i gyd yn rhoi golau gwyrdd llachar iawn i'r gwaith yma. Mae angen cychwyn arno fo, ond, yn sicr, mae o'n heriol.

Thank you very much. It's just a general point that reinforces what Mabli and Lowri have said, namely that this is a wider issue than second homes alone. There is an economic context to it, and the challenge in terms of collaboration on this is going to be huge. One is very pleased that that has been stated now. Also, looking at that wider picture, this is a very long-term project, and it's one that is going to demand long-term commitment and investment. And I would just want to note that, as an organisation, we were disappointed with the Government's recent budget. This issue needs long-term investment, budget and commitment, and we certainly need a structure to ensure that that is provided if we are going to press ahead with this. Having said that, one thing that I would say is that I'm sure that we are all giving a very bright green light to this work, going ahead. There is a need to start this job of work, but, certainly, it is challenging.

09:15

Okay. Diolch yn fawr, Ruth. A question from me, then, on the consultations that are taking place on taxes, on planning, in terms of the pilot in Dwyfor, and, of course, the Welsh language communities housing plan. To what extent do you think all of that is satisfactory in terms of the scale and the pace that's involved? Do any of you have any concerns?

Yn sicr, dŷn ni wedi croesawu'r ymrwymiadau dŷn ni wedi eu gweld gan y Llywodraeth a'r mesurau sy'n cael eu cynnig yn rhai o'r ymgynghoriadau sydd wedi bod ar y gweill, o ran cynyddu trethi ac, yn amlwg, y cyhoeddiad y diwrnod o'r blaen ar hynny. Dŷn ni'n croesawu hefyd y cynigion o ran rheoleiddio llety gwyliau, newid dosbarth defnydd ac ati, a'r ymrwymiadau a oedd yn y cytundeb cydweithio rhwng Plaid Cymru a'r Llywodraeth, yn benodol ar y maes yma, o ran gosod cap ar ail dai a llety gwyliau mewn cymunedau. Achos os oes yna un mesur a fyddai'n gwneud gwir wahaniaeth ar lawr gwlad, dyna fe, pan mae'n sôn am y broblem benodol yma.

Dŷn ni ddim yn teimlo bod y cynigion yn y cynllun tai cymunedau Cymraeg rili yn gymesur â'r broblem ei hun—lot o gynlluniau reit amwys, a syniadau nad oedd wir ag unrhyw dystiolaeth y tu ôl iddyn nhw o ran y gwahaniaeth y byddan nhw'n ei wneud ar lawr gwlad, a hefyd rhai syniadau eithaf problematig, dwi'n meddwl, o ran derbyn bod dirywiad cymunedol yn mynd i ddigwydd a taw dim ond mesurau lliniaru y mae'r Llywodraeth yn gallu eu cymryd. Dwi'n meddwl bod rhai o'r mesurau, yn enwedig yn y cynllun yna, er enghraifft, fel cynlluniau gwirfoddol i asiantaethau tai, yn rhai sydd, rili, jest yn ein dargyfeirio ni o'r angen sylfaenol i reoleiddio'r farchnad dai, ymhob rhan o'r wlad. A dyna, rili, sydd wrth wraidd unrhyw ddiffygion yn yr ymatebion dŷn ni wedi eu gweld gan y Llywodraeth hyd yn hyn—mae angen mynd ymhellach, mae angen symud yn gynt, ond mae angen cael cynllun er mwyn rheoleiddio'r farchnad dai yn llwyr. Achos, ar hyn o bryd, dydy'r farchnad rydd ddim yn gweithio mewn unrhyw ran o Gymru, a dyna pam dŷn ni'n galw am Ddeddf eiddo, a fyddai'n mynd i'r afael â'r broblem yma ar lefel fwy sylfaenol.

Certainly, we've welcomed the commitments that we've seen from Government, and the steps that have been proposed in some of the consultations, in terms of increasing taxes, and, obviously, the announcement on that just the other day. We also welcome proposals in terms of the regulation of holiday lets, change-of-use class and so on, and so forth, and the commitments in the co-operation agreement between Plaid Cymru and the Government, specifically in this area, in terms of placing a cap on second homes and holiday accommodation in communities. Because if there is one measure that would make a real difference on the ground, then that's it, when you're talking about that specific problem.

We don't feel that the proposals in the Welsh language communities housing plan are actually proportionate to the scale of the problem itself. There are a number of quite ambiguous plans, and some ideas that aren't really evidence-based in terms of the difference that they would make on the ground, and also some ideas that are problematic in terms of accepting that community decline is going to happen and that the Government is only able to take mitigating actions. I think some of the measures, particularly in that plan, for example, such as voluntary plans for housing agencies, just divert us from that fundamental need to regulate the housing market, in all parts of the country. And that's what's at the heart of any deficiencies in the response that we've seen from Government—we need to go further, we need to move more quickly, but we need to have a plan in place in order to regulate the housing market in its entirety. Because, at the moment, the free market isn't working in any part of Wales, and that's why we're calling for a property Act, which would tackle this problem at a more fundamental level.

Jest pwynt go gyffredinol ynglŷn â'r broses ymgynghori, yn sicr, dwi'n siŵr bod llawer ohonon ni'n croesawu'r ymgynghoriadau, ond yn canfod ambell un ohonyn nhw yn eithaf heriol. Doedden nhw ddim o angenrheidrwydd yn hygyrch i bawb, ac yn sicr doedden nhw ddim yn hygyrch i'r sawl sy'n cael eu heffeithio fwyaf gan yr argyfwng presennol. Felly pwynt ydy hwn, mewn gwirionedd, i apelio, fel y mae'r gwaith yn mynd yn ei flaen, i gofio mor hanfodol bwysig ydy ymgysylltu â'r cymunedau eu hunain sydd yn ei chanol hi, a gwrando'n astud ar y lleisiau yna. Mae llawer iawn o ddatrysiadau yn dod o'r cymunedau eu hunain.

Just a general point with regard to the consultation process, certainly, I'm sure that many of us have welcomed the consultations, but have found some of them rather challenging. They weren't, necessarily, accessible to everyone, and certainly they weren't accessible to those impacted most by the current crisis. So, this is a point, truth be told, to appeal, as the work goes ahead, to remember how vitally important engagement with these communities themselves is—those communities that are in the middle of this issue, and listening very carefully to those voices. Many solutions will come from the communities themselves.

Okay. Thank you very much, Ruth. If our other witnesses do not wish to contribute on this particular question, then one further question from me, before, as I said earlier, we move on to other committee members. The last question from me is about Dr Brooks's recommendation that a commission be established to make recommendations regarding the future of the Welsh language as a community language, and your views on whether such a commission would be valuable and useful. Lowri. Sori, it's Mabli, is it? Sorry, yes, Mabli. My eyesight is struggling. Mabli.

09:20

Ie, o safbwynt Cymdeithas yr Iaith, dŷn ni ddim yn gweld bod angen sefydlu comisiwn ychwanegol ar y mater yma. Mae eisoes gyda ni Gomisiynydd y Gymraeg, Comisiynydd Cenedlaethau'r Dyfodol Cymru, y Llywodraeth ei hun, wrth gwrs, sydd i gyd â chyfrifoldeb penodol o ran y Gymraeg a'i dyfodol hi. Felly, dŷn ni ddim yn meddwl bod angen comisiwn ychwanegol. Mae digon o arbenigedd ac mae yna ddigon o dystiolaeth mas yn fanna gan y Llywodraeth y gallan nhw dynnu arni.

Ac ymhellach, jest i nodi ein bod ni yn credu'n gryf y dylai unrhyw waith sy'n cael ei wneud ar y mater yma o ran y Gymraeg fel iaith gymunedol—mae'n hollbwysig bod hynny'n cymryd golwg Cymru gyfan o ran yr iaith.

Yes, from the Cymdeithas yr Iaith perspective, we don't believe that there is a need to establish another commission on this issue. We already have a Welsh Language Commissioner, a Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, the Government itself, of course, who all have specific responsibilities in terms of the Welsh language and its future. So, we don't believe that a new commission is needed. There is plenty of expertise and plenty of evidence out there that the Government can draw on.

And further to that, just to note that we do strongly believe that any work done on this issue of the Welsh language as a community language—it is crucially important that that takes a whole-Wales approach in terms of the language.

Diolch yn fawr, Mabli. Lowri—[Interruption.] Sorry, okay, Lowri first, then.

Diolch. Hynny ydy, mae'r gwaith arfaethedig y bydd y comisiwn yn gyfrifol amdano fo yn waith rydyn ni'n sicr yn ei groesawu. Hynny ydy, mae yna ddata o gwmpas y lle, ond mae angen rhagor. Ond mae angen adnoddau ac arbenigedd mawr i fynd i'r afael efo'r gwaith o ddadansoddi y sefyllfa'n well, dwi'n meddwl. Wedyn, pwy bynnag sy'n mynd i'w wneud o, y ffaith amdani ydy bod angen adnoddau ac arbenigedd sylweddol iawn o ran pobl sydd yn gynllunwyr ieithyddol ar yr un llaw a phobl sy'n arbenigo mewn data, mewn dad-drefoli, mewn symudedd pobl. Wedyn, hynny ydy, dwi ddim yn meddwl bod comisiwn yn rhywbeth y dylai gael ei sefydlu ar chwarae bach; mae angen edrych yn wirioneddol ar beth ydy'r anghenion sydd eu hangen, yr wybodaeth a'r mecanweithiau y mae angen eu gweithio allan er mwyn cael gwell darlun o'r sefyllfa.

Thank you. That is, the work in the pipeline that the commission will be responsible for is work that we certainly welcome. There are data available, but we need more data. But there is a need for greater resource and expertise to get to grips with the work of analysing the data and analysing the situation better, I think. Then, whoever does that work, the truth is that they will need resources and significant expertise in terms of people with linguistic expertise on the one hand and people who specialise in data and the de-urbanisation and mobility of populations. So, I don't think that the commission is something that should be established on a whim; it's something that requires the necessary information and mechanisms to be able to get a better picture of the situation. 

Mi fyddwn i'n cytuno, efallai, gyda Lowri o ran bod yna lot o waith sydd angen ei wneud o ran dadansoddi data ac mae eisiau arbenigedd er mwyn sicrhau bod hwnna'n gallu digwydd. Mae sawl un y bore yma yn barod wedi cyfeirio at y ffaith nad jest problem tai yw hwn—mae'n mynd i sawl cyfeiriad arall. Nawr, y cwestiwn sydd gen i yw: pwy sy'n dod â'r holl bethau yna ynghyd o ran tai, addysg, o ran yr holl faterion sydd yn dylanwadu ar beth fyddwn i'n disgrifio fel hyfywedd cymunedau Cymraeg, ac yn edrych ar y rheini mewn ffordd holistic?

Nawr, os nad oes yna gorff arall yn gwneud hwnna, yna gallech chi ddadlau efallai—. Rŷn ni wedi clywed am lesiant y bore yma. Wel, i fi, mae'r syniad o lesiant yn rhoi'r syniad o lesiant lleol â'r pwyslais ar y Gymraeg, ond hefyd â phwyslais ar gyfiawnder. Ac mae'r term 'cyfiawnder' yn aml yn cael ei ddefnyddio; mae eisiau iddo gael ei ddefnyddio'n fwy yng nghyd-destun yr argyfwng tai. Ond, i fi, mae ymwneud comisiynydd cenedlaethau'r dyfodol â'r mater hwn yn anwastad iawn, ac mae gwaith y byrddau gwasanaethau cyhoeddus hefyd o ran ymwneud â'r mater hwn yn anwastad iawn. 

Nawr, dyw e ddim yn syndod efallai mai Gwynedd ac Ynys Môn sydd wedi bod y mwyaf blaenllaw yn fan hyn o ran edrych ar yr argyfwng tai yn lleol. Ond yn absenoldeb corff arall sy'n dod â phopeth ynghyd, ac nid jest yn edrych ar y broblem mewn ffordd holistic, ond hefyd yn denu sylw at y ffaith efallai fod polisïau'r Llywodraeth ambell waith yn tynnu'n groes i beth rŷn ni'n ei drafod y bore yma, os ydyn ni'n sôn am gynllun Seren, yn annog pobl ifanc i adael cymunedau Cymreig, i adael Cymru—. So, mae yna lot o bethau fan hyn, rwy'n credu, y byddai corff—. Os nad oes yna gorff arall yn gwneud hyn, efallai fod angen comisiwn sy'n dod â'r holl bethau yma ynghyd er mwyn edrych ar y pictiwr llawn.

I would agree, perhaps, with Lowri in that there's a great deal of work that needs to be done in terms of data analysis and you will need expertise to ensure that that can happen. Many people have already referred to the fact this morning that this isn't simply a housing problem—it goes in a number of other directions too. And the question that I would have is: who draws all of these strands together in terms of housing, education and all of the issues that have an influence on what I would describe as the viability of Welsh-speaking communities, and looks at those in a holistic manner?

Now, unless another body is doing that, and you could argue perhaps—. We've heard of well-being this morning. Well, for me, the idea of well-being presents the idea of local well-being with the emphasis on the Welsh language, but also on justice. And the term 'justice' is often used; it needs to be used more in the context of the housing crisis. But, for me, the involvement of the future generations commissioner with this issue is inconsistent, and the work of the public services boards in terms of this issue is inconsistent too.

It's no surprise perhaps that Gwynedd and Anglesey have been the most prominent here in looking at the local housing crisis. But in the absence of another body that draws all of these things together and doesn't simply look at a problem in a holistic manner, but also draws attention to the fact that Government policies at times contradict what we're discussing this morning, if we're talking about the Seren programme, for example, encouraging young people to leave their Welsh communities and to leave Wales—. So, there are a number of things here, I think, that a body—. If there's no other body doing this, then perhaps we do need a commission that brings all of these things together to look at the bigger picture.

Dwi'n credu bod Ruth eisiau siarad. Mae Ruth eisiau siarad.

I think that Ruth wants to contribute. Ruth wants to speak.

Jest i gadarnhau barn Dyfodol yr Iaith ar hyn. Rwy'n cytuno'n llwyr gyda Rhys a phawb arall. Mae'n neges gyson. Mae yna gymaint i'w gydlynu â'r Gymraeg. Delfryd Dyfodol i'r Iaith ydy cael asiantaeth sydd yn dod ag arbenigedd gyda'i gilydd, sydd yn dod â mewnbwn cymunedau at ei gilydd, ac sy'n gweithredu ar hyd llinellau cynllunio ieithyddol. Dwi'n meddwl bod mawr eisiau hynny, nid yn unig i fynd i'r afael â phroblemau ail gartrefi, ond i edrych ar y darlun ehangach hynod o gymhleth yma.

Yn y cyfamser, os nad ydy hynny'n bosib, yna mi fuasem ni yn cefnogi cael comisiwn, ond bod angen i'r comisiwn yna gael rhyddid i weithredu yn ddychmygus ac yn greadigol, er mwyn mynd i'r afael â darlun mor gymhleth.

Just to reaffirm Dyfodol yr Iaith's view on this. We agree entirely with Rhys and everyone else. It is a consistent message. There is so much to co-ordinate in terms of the Welsh language. The ideal for Dyfodol i'r Iaith is to have an agency that does bring in expertise, that brings together the input of the communities and that operates along the lines of language planning. I think there is a great need to do that, not just to tackle issues with regard to second homes, but to look at this bigger picture, the complex picture in this area.

In the meantime, if that isn't possible, then we would support having a commission, but that that commission should have the freedom to operate in an imaginative and creative way, in order to tackle such a complex issue.

09:25

Ond mae gyda ni gorff sy'n gwneud hynny i gyd, a'i enw yw Llywodraeth Cymru, a dyna beth ydy rôl y Llywodraeth, surely, i dynnu pobl a phethau at ei gilydd. Mae yna hen draddodiad yng Nghymru, wrth gwrs—os oes problem gyda ni, dŷn ni'n sefydlu pwyllgor, a dyna beth sy'n datrys y broblem, wrth gwrs. Mae gyda ni bwyllgor nawr; mae gyda ni fisgedi i'w bwyta, coffi i'w yfed, felly does dim byd arall gyda ni i fecso amdano.

Does dim un ohonoch chi rili wedi dweud eich bod chi'n cefnogi'r syniad o gomisiwn o'r fath y mae'r Llywodraeth wedi cynnig. Dwi'n tueddu i gyd-fynd â Mabli pan mae hi'n dweud bod sawl corff yn bodoli yn barod. So, ydych chi yn meddwl y dylai, efallai, y Llywodraeth arwain ar hyn, yn lle rhyw gorff tu fas i'r Llywodraeth. Rôl Llywodraeth Cymru yw sicrhau dyfodol yr iaith Gymraeg, surely?

We have a body that does all of that, and it's called the Welsh Government, and that's what the role of Government is, surely, to draw people and issues together. There's an old tradition in Wales that if we have a problem, we establish a committee, and that's what resolves the problem—we now have a committee; we have biscuits to eat and coffee to drink, so there's nothing else to worry about.

So, not one of you really has said that you support the idea of ​​a commission of this kind that the Government has proposed. I tend to agree with Mabli when she says that there are a number of bodies already in existence. So, do you think that the Government should lead on this, rather than some body outwith the Government? It is the role of the Welsh Government to secure the future of the Welsh language, surely?

Dwi'n cytuno'n llwyr mai rôl y Llywodraeth yw hyn. Dwi hefyd yn meddwl bod angen cofio mai mater tai yw rhan o hyn, a mater addysg yw addysg Gymraeg. Dyw sort of ceisio rhoi y Gymraeg mewn rhyw fath o flwch ar wahân i feysydd polisi eraill ddim yn gweithio. Mae angen prif-ffrydio ystyriaethau ieithyddol ar draws pob adran o'r Llywodraeth. Y broblem yw, yn amlwg—a bydd unrhyw un sydd wedi ymwneud â'r Llywodraeth ar y materion yma yn gwybod—dyw hynny ddim bob tro yn digwydd, a dyw'r arbenigedd ddim wastad yna, a dyw'r pwyslais ar y Gymraeg a phwysigrwydd y Gymraeg ddim o hyd yn digwydd o fewn y Llywodraeth. Cytuno'n llwyr mai cyfrifoldeb y Llywodraeth yw hyn.

I agree entirely that this is the Government's role. I also think that we need to remember that the housing issue is a part of this, and it's an education issue with regard to the Welsh language. Trying to put the Welsh language in a separate box to other policy areas doesn't work. We need to mainstream linguistic considerations across every Government department. The problem is, clearly—and anyone who has been involved with the Government on these issues will know—that that doesn't always happen, and the expertise isn't always there, and the emphasis on the Welsh language and the importance of the Welsh language isn't always clear within Government. But, yes, I agree that this is the Government's responsibility.

Okay. Well, I think we have some differences there from our witnesses. Ruth.

Ie, cytuno'n llwyr. Y drafferth ydy ar hyn o bryd, ac fel mae Mabli wedi dweud, mae'r Gymraeg yn rhywbeth sydd mewn bocs, a'r bocs yna o fewn y Llywodraeth ydy is-adran y Gymraeg. Dwi'n meddwl bod y ffaith mai is-adran ydy hi ynddi hi ei hun yn arwyddocaol. Mae hi'n adran sydd wedi cael ei chladdu o dan sawl haen o fiwrocratiaeth, ac felly dwi'n meddwl bod yna gytundeb yn fan yma: pa bynnag ffordd mae o'n cael ei wneud, bod angen mwy o amlygrwydd i'r Gymraeg, a bod o hefyd yn fater sydd yn cael ei weld fel cyfrifoldeb pob adran ar draws y Llywodraeth, yn enwedig fel yr ydyn ni'n mynd i'r afael efo materion sydd mor gymhleth â jest busnes tai yn ei gyd-destun ehangach.

Yes, I agree entirely. The problem is that at the moment, as Mabli has said, the Welsh language is something that's put in a box, and that box within Government is the Welsh language division. I think the fact that it is a division is significant in and of itself. It is a department that's buried under a number of layers of bureaucracy, and therefore I think there is agreement here: however it is done, we need more prominence for the Welsh language, and that it should also be an issue that should be seen as the responsibilities of all departments across Government, particularly as we start to grapple with issues that are so very complex in terms of housing in its broader context.

Okay, diolch yn fawr. We move on, then, to another committee Member—Mabon ap Gwynfor. Mabon.

Bore da i chi i gyd. Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi i gyd am ddod yma y bore yma i roi eich tystiolaeth a'ch arbenigedd i ni. Rŷn ni'n ddiolchgar iawn. Wrth gwrs, mae'r ymchwiliad yma yn trafod ail dai, tai gwyliau ac yn y blaen, a ddaru ni gychwyn y sgwrs yn sôn am y pwysau ar gymunedau gwledig Cymreig y gorllewin, ond yn ystod y drafodaeth hyd yma, mae ambell un ohonoch chi yn eich cyfraniadau wedi sôn am Gymru gyfan. Fedrwch chi jest ymhelaethu ychydig ar hynny, os gwelwch yn dda? Ydych chi'n meddwl bod hon yn broblem ail dai yn benodol, felly yn broblem sydd yn gyfyngedig i rai ardaloedd bach, ynteu ydy o'n broblem sydd hefyd yn effeithio mewn amryfal ffyrdd ar gymunedau eraill ar draws Cymru?

Good morning to you all. Thank you very much to you all for joining us this morning and for giving your evidence and expertise. We're very grateful. Of course, this inquiry is discussing second homes and holiday homes and so on, and we started the conversation talking about the pressure on rural communities, but during the discussion so far, some of you have talked about Wales as a whole. Can you just expand on that? Do you think that this is specifically a second homes problem, therefore an issue restricted to some small areas, or is it an issue that is also impacting in several ways on other communities in Wales?

09:30

A allaf i ddod mewn ar hynny? Yn amlwg, mae'r adroddiad gan Simon Brooks ei hun yn dangos bod yna ddwysedd a bod yna broblem benodol mewn rhai ardaloedd o ran ail dai a llety gwyliau, ond dŷn ni yn gweld ardaloedd eraill sydd ddim yn rhai arfordirol neu wledig lle mae yna broblemau. Er enghraifft, dwi'n dod o Gaerdydd, ac mae Airbnb yn rhemp yma yng Nghaerdydd hefyd, ac yn cael effaith ar gynyddu prisiau tai a hefyd cymryd tai allan o'r stoc rhent preifat a'u rhoi o dan lety gwyliau tymor byr, sydd yn amlwg yn cael effaith. Felly, mae'r problemau yma yn broblemau Cymru gyfan, sy'n amlygu eu hunain yn wahanol mewn gwahanol ardaloedd.

Dŷn ni'n gwybod hefyd bod yna ardaloedd lle mae'r Gymraeg yn brif iaith y gymuned lle efallai nad oes problem benodol o ran ail dai a llety gwyliau, ond mae yna dal problem fawr o ran pobl ifanc a theuluoedd yn gallu fforddio tai yn lleol. Mae hwnna weithiau'n cael ei yrru gan jest prisiau'n cynyddu ym mhob man, neu hefyd pobl yn symud i mewn i'r ardal o ardaloedd eraill sydd â mwy o gyfalaf i allu prynu tŷ. Fe wnaethon ni glywed yn ein rali diweddar ni gan deulu o Landysul a oedd yn profi y problemau yma. Dyw hi ddim yn ardal lle mae ail dai neu lety gwyliau yn broblem, ond dyw pobl dal ddim yn gallu fforddio tŷ yn eu hardal nhw. A natur y farchnad dai yw ei bod hi'n gysylltiedig o gwmpas y wlad i gyd, felly allwch chi ddim cymryd un broblem neu un ardal benodol a'i thrin ar wahân i'r problemau ehangach yna yn y system tai sy'n gweld prisiau tai a rhent yn ffrwydro ar draws Cymru i gyd a phobl yn cael eu gwthio o'u cymunedau.

If I could come in at this point. Clearly, the Simon Brooks report does demonstrate that there is a particular problem in certain areas in terms of holiday accommodation and second homes, but we do see other areas that aren't coastal or rural where there are also problems. I'm from Cardiff, and Airbnb is all over the place here in Cardiff and it's having an impact on house prices and taking homes out of the private rental stock to become short-term holiday lets, which also has an impact, of course. So, these problems are all-Wales problems, which emerge in different ways in different areas.

We also know that there are areas where the Welsh language is the main community language where, perhaps, there isn't a specific problem in terms of second homes and holiday accommodations, but there are still huge problems with young people and families being able to afford housing locally. And that's often driven by prices increasing across the board or people moving into the area from other areas who have more capital to purchase homes. We heard in our recent rally from a family from Llandysul who were experiencing those problems. It's not an area where second homes or holiday accommodation is a problem, but people still can't afford homes in their own areas. And the nature of the housing market is that it's inter-related across the country, so you can't extract one problem or one specific area and treat it differently to those broader problems in the housing system that sees rent and house prices exploding across Wales and people being pushed out of their communities. 

Buaswn i'n ategu hynny. Mae adroddiad Dr Brooks yn amlwg yn nodi bod yna ddwyster mewn rhai ardaloedd o ail gartrefi a chartrefi gwyliau. Mae o'n nodi hefyd, wrth gwrs, yn yr ardaloedd hynny hefyd, ei bod hi'n debygol iawn bod yna ddwyster o bobl wedi mudo yno hefyd, felly mae'n broblem gymhleth yn y fan honno. Ond mae'n deg dweud, wrth gwrs, ein bod ni, dwi'n meddwl, ond yn dechrau dod allan o gyfnod o bandemig, neu rydyn ni yn y cyfnod o bandemig, mewn gwirionedd, ac rydyn ni eto i ddeall beth mae hynny wedi'i olygu yn y funud hon, mewn gwirionedd, i rai cymunedau. Achos mae'r data sydd gyda ni o bosib yn yr adroddiadau yma yn mynd yn ôl dwy flynedd, ac yn anecdotaidd mae rhywun yn clywed bod newidiadau mewn ardaloedd lle nad oedd yna, o bosib, gynifer o ail gartrefi neu dai gwyliau. A dyna ydy'r pwynt mewn gwirionedd, yn mynd yn ôl i'r drafodaeth yma am gomisiwn: mae angen bod yn ymwybodol o'r newidiadau wrth iddyn nhw ddigwydd. Felly, mae angen gwybodaeth drylwyr iawn am beth sy'n digwydd. Hefyd, o feddwl am yr ymyraethau sydd wedi cael eu cyflwyno, mae'n ddigon posibl y bydd i rai o'r rheini eu sgil-effeithiau anfwriadol ar gymunedau lle na fydd yr ymyraethau yma'n cael eu cyflwyno. Wedyn, mewn ffordd, ie, mae e'n broblem leol mewn rhai mannau, ond mae'n ddigon posib ei bod hi'n broblem a all ehangu o safbwynt ail gartrefi yn benodol. 

I would endorse that. The report by Dr Brooks notes that there is a particular problem in some areas with regard to second homes and holiday accommodation, and also notes that in those areas there is a particular density of people who have migrated there, so it is a very complex issue in that area. But it's fair to say, of course, that we're only starting to emerge from a pandemic, or we're still in a pandemic period, truth be told, and we're still yet to understand what that has meant, in this instance, for some communities. Because the data that we have in these reports go back two years, and anecdotally one hears that there were changes in areas where perhaps there weren't that high a number of second homes or holiday homes in the past. And that's the point, going back to that discussion about a commission: we need to be aware of the changes as they happen. So, we need very thorough information on the current situation and what's happening. Looking at the interventions that have been introduced, it's very possible that some of those will have unintended consequences for communities where these interventions haven't been introduced. So, in a way, yes, it is a local issue in some areas, but it's very possible that it is a problem that could expand with regard to second homes in particular.

Efallai bod hwn yn bwynt ychydig bach yn wahanol, a dwi'n oedi cyn dweud hyn achos dwi'n cyfeirio at wleidyddiaeth fan hyn a beth sy'n wleidyddol gywir—dwi'n oedi, efallai, cyn dweud hwnna wrth ystafell o wleidyddion. Ond dwi'n pyslo hefyd a oes yna werth gwleidyddol drwy ddweud bod hon yn broblem ar gyfer Cymru gyfan. Achos dwi'n credu y perygl yw, os ydyn ni'n dweud bod hon yn broblem sy'n lleol ac yn rhanbarthol ei natur, yna, unwaith eto, mae'n cael ei gwthio o'r neilltu, ac efallai nad oes yna gefnogaeth genedlaethol ar gyfer unrhyw fath o bolisïau sy'n cael eu datblygu yn y maes yma. Mae yna werth efallai drwy ddweud bod hon yn broblem ar gyfer Cymru gyfan, ac felly ei fod e'n ffordd o ennyn cefnogaeth Cymru gyfan ar gyfer unrhyw fath o ymyrraeth yn y maes yma. Mae yna werth hefyd wrth bwysleisio bod hon yn broblem ryngwladol neu sy'n croesi ffiniau. Mae'n digwydd yn yr Alban, mae'n digwydd yng Nghernyw, mae'n digwydd mewn sawl rhan o Loegr hefyd, so mae yna werth drwy bwysleisio'r ffaith bod hon yn broblem sy'n ehangach ei natur. Mae yna gyd-destun Cymreig fan hyn, mae yna gyd-destun ieithyddol, yn amlwg, mewn rhai ardaloedd penodol o Gymru, ond oes yna werth—gofyn y cwestiwn ydw i—drwy bwysleisio bod hon yn broblem genedlaethol ar gyfer Cymru gyfan ac yn broblem sy'n rhyngwladol hefyd?

Perhaps this is a slightly different point, and I pause before saying this, because I'm referring to politics here and what's politically correct—I pause before saying that to a room full of politicians. But I'm wondering if there is a political value in saying that this is an all-Wales problem. Because the risk is, if we say that this is a localised or regional problem, then, once again, it's pushed to the periphery, and perhaps there isn't support at a national level for any policies that would be developed in this area. There is value, perhaps, in stating that this is an all-Wales problem, and that's a way of getting support across Wales for any sort of intervention in this area. There is value too in suggesting that this is an international problem. It crosses borders. It happens in Scotland, in Cornwall, many parts of England, so it's worth emphasising the fact that this is broader problem. There is Wales context, yes, there's a linguistic context too in certain areas of Wales, but I'm asking the question: is it worthwhile noting that this is a national problem for the whole of Wales and indeed an international problem too?

09:35

Yn sicr, mae o'n broblem sydd yn effeithio Cymru gyfan, ond os rydyn ni'n edrych ar hwn yng nghyd-destun y Gymraeg, yna, mi rydyn ni'n gweld ei bod o'n broblem leol iawn, a bod yr elfen o fygythiad i'r Gymraeg yn ychwanegol i jest hawliau a chydlyniant cymdeithasol. Efallai y buasai'n amserol yma i grybwyll y syniad o Arfor, y prosiect Arfor a gafodd sylw yn y cytundeb rhwng y Llywodraeth a Phlaid Cymru, a gweld bod y potensial yno i hwn fod yn asiantaeth sydd yn edrych ar anghenion economaidd a diwylliannol yr ardaloedd hynny o Gymru lle mae yna'r elfen ychwanegol yma o iaith a diwylliant ynghlwm â'r pictiwr ehangach.

It is certainly a problem that affects the whole of Wales, but if we look at this in the context of the Welsh language, then we do see that it is a very local problem, and that the element of the threat to the Welsh language is additional to social rights and cohesion as well. Perhaps it would be timely here just to mention the idea of Arfor and the Arfor project that was given attention in the agreement between the Government and Plaid Cymru, and see that the potential is there for this to be an agency that is looking at the economic and cultural needs in those parts of Wales where there is that additional element of the language and culture associated with the wider picture too.

Diolch yn fawr iawn am yr atebion hynny. Os caf i fynd ymlaen, dŷn ni wedi sôn am ail dai, dŷn ni wedi sôn am dai gwyliau a dŷn ni wedi sôn am lety gwyliau tymor byr. Dwi'n cofio roeddwn i mewn trafodaeth boeth iawn efo rhywrai mewn tref ar lan y môr dros yr haf yn trafod y pynciau hyn, ac roedd yna gamddealltwriaeth achos roedden nhw'n meddwl fy mod i'n sôn am lety gwyliau tymor byr ac roeddwn i'n sôn am ail dai lle'r oedd pobl yn treulio ychydig o'u hamser yno ond nhw oedd yn ei berchen o. Hynny ydy, does yna ddim diffiniad clir wedi bod ar beth ydy ail dŷ neu dŷ gwyliau; does yn sicr ddim diffiniad cyfreithiol i hyn. Ydych chi'n meddwl bod angen diffiniad, neu ydy diffyg diffiniad clir yn broblem? Neu ydych chi'n meddwl ei fod o'n eithaf clir beth rydyn ni'n siarad amdano?

Thank you very much for those responses. If I could move on, we have talked about second homes, holiday homes and short-term holiday lets. I remember a fierce discussion in a seaside town in the summer discussing these issues, and there was a misunderstanding because they thought I was talking about short-term holiday lets and I was actually talking about second homes where people were spending little time, but they actually owned the property. That is, there has been no clear definition of what constitutes a second home or a holiday home; there is certainly no legal definition in these cases. Do you think that we need a definition, or is the lack of a clear definition a problem? Or is it quite clear what we're talking about?

Yn amlwg, mae hi o fantais i fod â diffiniadau er mwyn gallu creu polisïau a fyddai'n gallu mynd i'r afael â'r broblem sy'n cael ei chrisialu yn y diffiniad, mewn ffordd. Byddwn i'n dadlau bod yr ymgynghoriadau diweddar gan y Llywodraeth yn gynyddol yn dod â ni at bwynt lle mae yna eglurder ynghylch y diffiniadau hyn, neu bod yna ddiffiniadau'n cael eu creu. Hynny ydy, mae'r ymgynghoriad diweddar ar ddeddfwriaeth a pholisi cynllunio ar gyfer ail gartrefi yn ein symud ni tuag at grisialu beth ydy tŷ annedd sy'n gartref eilaidd neu rywbeth sy'n llety gosod tymor byr, ac mae'r un peth yn wir o safbwynt yr ymgynghoriadau trethiannol. Felly, dwi'n meddwl ein bod ni yn symud tuag at sefyllfa lle mae'n dod yn fwy eglur sut mae diffinio, ac wedyn mae modd gosod mesurau yn eu lle. Wrth gwrs, gallaf i fynd yn ôl i'r pwynt gwaelodol rydyn ni wedi bod yn ei godi drwyddi draw, mewn ffordd. Dwi ddim eisiau dweud nad oes ots beth yw'r diffiniad achos mae'n amlwg, efo diffiniad, mae modd creu polisïau, ond rydyn ni dal yn mynd yn ôl i'r broblem o beth sy'n digwydd efo gallu pobl i brynu cartrefi a fforddiadwyedd.

Clearly, it is an advantage to have definitions so that we can create policies that could tackle the problem that is crystallised by the definition itself, in a way. I would argue that the recent consultations by the Government increasingly bring us to a point where there is clarity with regard to these definitions, or that there are definitions now being created. The recent consultation on legislation and planning policy for second homes moves us towards crystallising what a dwelling is that is a second home or a holiday let, and the same is true about taxation consultations. I think that we are moving towards a situation where it is becoming clearer how to define these issues, and then we can put measures in place. Of course, we could return to the basic point that we've been raising several times. I don't want to say that it doesn't matter what the definition is, because with a definition, you can create policies, but we are still going back to the fundamental problem of what is happening with people's ability to buy homes and affordability. 

Un peth arall gyda chael diffiniad ydy, wrth gwrs, bod modd monitro a chadw llygaid ar y sefyllfa yn well, ac mae modd mapio tueddiadau megis y broblem o orddwysedd ail gartrefi a llety tymor byr yn cael ei throsglwyddo o un gymuned i'r llall. Felly, yn sicr, os ydy rhywun eisiau cadw llygaid hirdymor ar hyn, a hefyd, wrth gwrs, gweld sut mae'r polisïau a'r awgrymiadau yma'n gweithio ar lawr gwlad, mae rhywun yn croesawu'r symudiadau sydd wedi cael eu gweld yn yr ymgynghoriadau i allu diffinio beth sydd dan sylw yn well. 

One other thing with having a definition is, of course, you can monitor the situation more effectively and you can map trends such as the problem of overconcentration of second homes and short-term lets being transferred from one community to another. So, certainly, if one wants to keep a long-term eye on this and also understand how these policies and recommendations work on the ground, then one would welcome the moves that we have seen in the consultations to better define what we're talking about. 

We'd better make some further progress this morning, I think, because we've got a lot yet to cover. Sam Rowlands.

Thanks, Chair. Good morning, everybody. Thanks for your time this morning; it's appreciated. I was going to look at some of the national and regional policy thinking, but some of you have already answered some of that in terms of where you think policy should lie. So, I just want to ask something else in terms of the assertions through the paperwork we've received today, specifically around the impact on the Welsh language of second homes and holiday homes. Indeed, one of the sentences in the paperwork talks about the crisis of holiday homes, and a bullet point there is:

'The weakening of the Welsh language through a process of replacing the native population'.

But what I haven't been able to see in the evidence provided is any quantitative data that backs this up. So, could you point out to me where the data is that says, and shows, that the Welsh language is being weakened in Wales because of second homes and holiday homes?

09:40

Dwi ddim yn meddwl y byddai'n rhaid mynd yn bell. Mae canlyniadau'r cyfrifiad diwethaf, er enghraifft—. Ac rŷn ni'n disgwyl, yn amlwg, i'r canlyniadau ddod. Mae'n eithaf amlwg, wrth edrych dros y degawdau, bod y canran o bobl yn y cymunedau yna lle mae'r mwyafrif o bobl yn siarad Cymraeg, ac yn ei defnyddio ar lefel ddyddiol yn y gymuned, wedi gostwng bob blwyddyn dros y degawdau, a dwi'n meddwl bod hwnna'n eithaf amlwg i unrhyw un sydd wedi edrych ar y canlyniadau, y dystiolaeth hyd yn hyn. A dŷn ni'n gwybod mai rhan o hynny ydy'r ffaith bod pobl wedi cael eu gwthio allan o'r cymunedau yna oherwydd diffyg tai fforddiadwy.

I don't think you'd have to go far. The results of the recent census—. And, of course, we're expecting the result of this next census. It's clear, in looking over the decades, that the percentage of people in those communities where the majority of people do speak Welsh and use the language on a daily basis in the community has seen a decline year on year over the decades, and I think that is quite clear to those who've looked at the results and the evidence to date. And we know that part of that is the fact that people have been pushed out of those communities because of a lack of affordable housing.

Efallai bod y dystiolaeth yn fwy anecdotaidd, ond yn ogystal â beth mae Mabli'n dweud ynglŷn â nifer y siaradwyr, dwi'n credu bod angen inni ystyried hefyd beth yw impact nifer cynyddol o ail dai ar y defnydd o'r iaith yn y gymuned hefyd. Mae yna dystiolaeth anecdotaidd yn dangos bod yr ardaloedd hynny, y cymunedau hynny lle mae yna niferoedd uchel o ail dai, yn rhai lle mae yna ddiffyg gwasanaethau'n gallu bod, achos does yna ddim pobl i'w cynnal nhw drwy gydol y flwyddyn. Ac yn sgil hynny, rŷch chi'n cael sefyllfa lle nad oes yna gyfleon i ddefnyddio'r iaith, neu mae llai o gyfleon i ddefnyddio'r iaith. So, mae yna dystiolaeth fwy anecdotaidd, efallai, sy'n cyfeirio hefyd ei bod hi ddim jest yn broblem o ran niferoedd y siaradwyr, ond hefyd dylanwad ail dai ar ddefnydd iaith yn lleol, sydd, yn amlwg, yn un o amcanion eraill y Llywodraeth yng nghyd-destun y strategaeth 2050.

Perhaps the evidence is more anecdotal, but in addition to what Mabli has said on the number of Welsh speakers, I think we also need to consider the impact of an increasing number of second homes on language usage in a community too. There is anecdotal evidence that demonstrates that those areas where there are high numbers of second homes are areas where there can be an absence of services, because there aren't the people there to sustain them throughout the year. And, as a result of that, you see a situation where there aren't opportunities to use the language, or there are fewer opportunities to use the language. So, there is more anecdotal evidence that shows that it's not just a problem in terms of the number of speakers, but also the influence of second homes on language usage at a local level, which, clearly, is one of the Government's other objectives in terms of the 2050 strategy.

Thanks for those responses. I was looking at the annual population survey, which the Welsh Government carries out, on the ability to speak Welsh in communities. In the past 10 years in areas of high second homes—. Looking at Pembrokeshire, for example, the Welsh language has increased there from 21 per cent to 32 per cent. In Gwynedd, it's increased from 72 per cent to 75 per cent, and Ynys Môn from 61 per cent to 66 per cent. So, is the information that Welsh Government's gathering around Welsh language in these communities false information then?

Mae yna nifer o bobl wedi dadlau bod yr hunanadrodd, y self-reporting, sut mae pobl yn adrodd eu gallu ieithyddol, yn wahanol iawn yn yr annual population survey o gymharu â'r cyfrifiad, a bod niferoedd y siaradwyr Cymraeg sy'n cael eu hadrodd yn ôl yr annual population survey dipyn uwch na beth sydd yn y cyfrifiad. Nawr, dwi ddim yn siŵr os taw cymharu ŷch chi fanna rhwng ffigyrau'r cyfrifiad a'r annual population survey. Os hynny, dwi ddim yn siŵr os ydy hi'n gymhariaeth deg. Byddwn i'n efallai aros i gael gweld beth yn union mae'r cyfrifiad nesaf yn ei ddweud, er mwyn dangos inni yn union, ein bod ni'n cymharu pethau tebyg, os liciwch chi.

A number of people have argued that the self-reporting, where people report their linguistic abilities, is very different in the annual population survey as compared to the census, and that the numbers of Welsh speakers that are reported according to the annual population survey are a great deal higher than in the census. I'm not sure whether you're comparing there between the census figures and the annual population survey. If so, I'm not sure whether it's a fair comparison. I would wait to see what the next census shows us, to show that we are comparing like with like, if you will.

Un mater arall o safbwynt y data rydych chi'n eu dyfynnu yw ei bod hi'n ddigon posib bod y data hynny yn ddata ar lefel sirol, tra'n bod ni'n sôn, fel mae adroddiad Dr Simon Brooks wedi'i nodi, am newidiadau mewn cymunedau unigol. Yn sicr, yn y cyfrifiad diwethaf, mi welsom ni ddirywiad sylweddol yn y nifer o gymunedau lle roedd y Gymraeg yn cael ei siarad. Y ffigwr euraidd, mewn ffordd, ydy 70 y cant o'r boblogaeth yn y cymunedau yna. Yn amlwg, amser a ddengys beth fydd y sefyllfa yn y cyfrifiad sydd newydd digwydd. Ond, ie, efallai bod angen meddwl beth ydy'r darlun ar lefel sirol a'r lefel gymunedol mewn cymunedau unigol, wrth edrych ar y data yna.

One other issue in terms of the figures to which you refer is that that is county-level data, and in Dr Brooks's report, it talks about changes within individual communities. Certainly, in the last census, we saw a significant decline in the number of communities where the Welsh language was at the golden figure, in a way—70 per cent of the population in those communities. Of course, time will tell what the situation will be in terms of the next census results. But perhaps we need to look at the county level, but also individual community levels too, in looking at that data.

09:45

Thank you for that, and I'd acknowledge the points that you've made and, just to be clear, the information is comparing the same data from one decade to the other. It wasn't a separate piece of surveys; it's the Welsh Government's own Welsh survey data. So, yes, I think it'd be a really helpful thing for us as a committee, Chair, and I'm sure other Members will talk about this in the future, having that quantitative information around Welsh language usage. It could really help us to be informed around Welsh Government policy.

But just finally, if I may, Chair, just to come back to the question I was supposed to ask, which is about where you think, perhaps, policy decision making should be sitting, whether that should be at a national level, at perhaps a county or regional level, or whether policy making and thinking should be done at a very community level. I think, Professor Rhys, you mentioned earlier about perhaps the national view might be better. But I'd just be interested to hear—policy thinking, decision making around second homes and holiday homes, where you think that would best lie. Thanks.

Wel, dŷn ni o blaid datganoli'r penderfyniadau a'r grymoedd yna i'r lefel fwyaf lleol priodol, ac, yn amlwg, er mwyn ymateb i'r gwahanol sefyllfaoedd mewn gwahanol gymunedau ar draws siroedd a hefyd o fewn siroedd, mae angen hynny. Felly, yn sicr, dŷn ni am gael polisi cenedlaethol ond un sy'n rhoi'r grym i awdurdodau lleol a chymunedau allu ymateb i'r sefyllfa yn eu hardaloedd nhw, ac actually rheoli'r farchnad dai a'r system cynllunio ar lefel leol.

Well, we're in favour of devolution of the decisions and powers to the most appropriate local level, and, clearly, in order to respond to the different situations in different communities across counties and also within counties, there is a need for that to happen. So, certainly, we want to see a national policy, but one that gives local authorities and communities the power to be able to respond to the situation in their particular areas and to control and manage the planning system and housing market on a local level.

Un peth i'w ychwanegu yn hynny o beth. Hynny ydy, buaswn i'n gytûn bod angen polisi cenedlaethol i alluogi yn fwy lleol i bethau gael eu rhoi mewn grym. Ond dwi'n meddwl mai un o'r pethau sy'n dod yn amlwg i ni o'r ymgynghoriadau rydyn ni wedi bod yn ymateb iddyn nhw ydy mawredd y dasg, mewn gwirionedd, a hefyd yr adnoddau sydd eu hangen er mwyn gwireddu'r polisïau cenedlaethol yma ar lefel leol. Jest eisiau nodi hynny fel rhywbeth mae angen rhoi ystyriaeth iddo fo.

Rydyn ni eisoes wedi sôn, mewn ffordd, am yr angen am ddata a dadansoddi. Hynny ydy, mae angen i hynny fod ar gael i awdurdodau lleol i fod yn gallu mynd i'r afael ag o er mwyn gwneud y penderfyniadau hynny yn lleol. Wedyn, cais, mewn ffordd, yw i nodi yr angen yna i fod yn gallu arfogi mor lleol â phosib i fynd i'r afael â'r angen.

One thing to add in this context. I would agree that we do need a national policy to enable things to be put in place more locally, but one of the things that is becoming apparent from the consultations that we've been responding to is the scale of the challenge, in a way, and also the resources required in order to deliver these national policies at the local level. So, I just wanted to note that as something that needs to be considered.

We've already mentioned the need for data and analysis. That needs to be available to local authorities so that they can make those decisions at a local level. So, it's a request that you note that need to empower people at a local level to address the need.

Thank you, Chair, and I've got to apologise for being late; traffic was a nightmare this morning. Just to touch upon what was just said then about the local level, one of the interests I have in all these evidence sessions is with regard to taxation and the role that local and national taxation has in addressing this issue of second homes and short-term holiday lets. I just wanted to get a brief, not bullet-point, but a brief description from your ends on what you think that role is, if that's possible.

O'n persbectif ni, yn sicr mae gan drethu rôl i'w chwarae yn hyn a dŷn ni wedi bod yn galw am drethi uwch ar ail dai ac yn falch o weld y cyhoeddiad diweddar. Dŷn ni hefyd yn galw am dreth ar elw landlordiaid, treth ar lety gwyliau yn benodol, a dŷn ni hefyd yn cefnogi treth ar dwristiaeth, sy'n un o'r ymrwymiadau mae'r Llywodraeth wedi ei wneud. Ond mae'n werth nodi mai dim ond rhan o'r ymateb dylai'r trethi fod ac mae angen i hynny eistedd o fewn polisi holistaidd sy'n mynd i'r afael â'r broblem.

From our perspective, taxation certainly has a role to play in this, and we've been calling for higher taxes on second homes, and we're very pleased to see the recent announcement on that. We're also calling for a tax on landlords' profits and a tax on holiday accommodation in particular. We also support a tourism levy, which is one of the commitments that the Government has made. But it's worth noting that that's only part of the response, that taxation should only be part of the picture and it should be one consideration in a holistic policy that tackles this issue.

Okay. Any other of our witnesses want to offer a view? No, okay. Joel.

Just to go back to that, then, you mentioned taxation in a holistic view. When we've spoken in different evidence sessions previously, there was a mix of views on why that taxation is there. Is it there to discourage second home ownership? Is it to almost penalise second home ownership, or was it then used as a way of raising money then to address it, in terms of building affordable housing or improving the highway infrastructure and that? Because I'm conscious that, this week—or it might have been last week now—the Welsh Government announced the possibility of a 300 per cent rise then on second home taxation, and I just wanted to pick your brains about what sort of message that sends, do you think, not necessarily just to the communities that might benefit from it, if that's the right word to use, but then people then looking at maybe coming on holiday to Gwynedd or to Ynys Môn, or even looking at purchasing a second home. And also then, with regard to that, then, do you see that there's a sort of a cut off, where you tax to a level then that no-one else buys a second home then, and then the impact that has then on the local property market or local houses? Because I know you mentioned about the decline in terms of the Welsh language being linked to second homes, but, obviously, looking at the report that we've done, decline could also be attributed to a lack of jobs, and I know that we've spoken in some evidence sessions where they've said, 'Listen, we don't want the tourists, we don't want new jobs and we don't want new houses—we just want everything to stay as it is.' Clearly, that's not possible, and I just wanted your views there. Sorry to have gone on a bit of a ramble.

09:50

Os gallaf i jest ateb hynny o'r sylwadau gwnes i gynt, achos o'n persbectif ni, dydyn ni ddim yn credu bod yna werth ynddo'i hun i ail dai, ac mae yna egwyddor sylfaenol fan hyn o'r ffaith bod gan rai bobl fwy nag un tŷ tra nad yw eraill yn gallu fforddio un o gwbl, a dyna beth sydd angen ei newid. Felly, o ran nod y polisi gyda'r trethi, ie, i ni, y nod yw newid yr incentive sydd gyda ni yn y farchnad, achos ar hyn o bryd mae'r holl incentives yn y farchnad i gyd am drin tai fel eiddo i wneud elw yn lle cartrefi i bobl leol, a dyna beth sydd angen ei newid. Felly, drwy drethu i'r lefel yna, mae'n newid yr incentives. Ond eto, o ran y mesurau eraill sydd eu hangen, fel y cap ar ail dai a llety gwyliau, fel blaenoriaeth i bobl leol yn y farchnad, dyna beth sydd ei angen.

Ac o ran y pwyntiau ehangach, dwi'n meddwl bod pawb eisiau gweld swyddi sy'n talu'n dda ymhob rhan o Gymru. Mae pawb eisiau gweld ein cymunedau'n ffynnu ymhob man.

If I could respond to that in relation to the comments I made earlier, because, from our perspective, we don't believe that there is a value in and of themselves to second homes, and there's a fundamental principle here in the fact that some people have more than one home whilst others can't afford a home in the first instance, and that's what needs to change. So, in terms of the aims of the policy on taxation, then, yes, for us, the aim is to change the incentives within the market, because at the moment all of the market incentives all treat houses as assets rather than things that provide homes for local people. So, through taxation at that level, it changes the incentives. But in terms of the other measures that need to be put in place, such as the cap on second homes and holiday accommodation and a priority for local people in the market, that's what we need.

In terms of the broader points, I think that everybody wants to see well-paid employment in all parts of Wales. Everyone wants to see our communities prosper in all parts of Wales.

Ie, yn sicr, swyddi, mae hynny yn rhan o'r darlun, a datblygiad economaidd ehangach, a dwi'n meddwl fod o'n gofyn am ymateb gwahanol o safbwynt cymunedau sydd o dan fygythiad o ran hyfywedd gan ail gartrefi a llety tymor byr. Mewn gwirionedd, beth ydy o ydy—pe baem ni'n cymryd twristiaeth, er enghraifft—gwneud i'r diwydiant yna weithio yn fwy er lles y gymuned ei hun. Hynny yw, mae twristiaeth, mae o'n wasanaeth, mae o'n ddiwylliant, does yna ddim byd o'i le arno fo, ond mae perthynas y cymunedau â thwristiaeth, ar hyn o bryd, yn tueddu i fod yn wasaidd, a dweud y gwir. Mae angen i'r cymunedau a'r bobl yn y cymunedau yna gael fwy o reolaeth ar eu heconomi a'u dyfodol eu hunain. Mae hynny'n rhannol yn ymwneud â'r sefyllfa o ran tai a lletai, ond mae o hefyd, wrth gwrs, yn gwestiwn o ddatblygu economaidd hirdymor, sensitif hefyd.

Yes, certainly, jobs, that is part of the picture, and economic development in the wider sense, and I think it calls for a different response from the point of view of the communities that are under threat in terms of their viability as a result of second homes and short-term holiday lets. In truth, if we were to take tourism as an example, it's about making that industry work more for the benefit of the community itself. That is, tourism, it's a service, it's a culture, there is nothing wrong with it, but the relationship between communities and tourism at the moment tends to be servile, in a sense. The communities and the people living in those communities need to have more control over their economies and their own futures. That partly relates to the situation with regard to housing and the availability of housing, but it's also a question of economic development in the long term, in a sensitive way too.

Thank you. So, I'm just going to ask some questions regarding planning, and your views on whether planning guidance should be strengthened to facilitate creative policies, such as the local market housing scheme in Gwynedd and Môn, or ideas including support for communities to take ownership of properties to let for the benefit of their community. And also the benefits in having new planning use classes for short-term holiday lets and for second homes, and any challenges that that would bring.

Okay, thank you, Carolyn. Who would like to begin in response? Yes, Ruth.

09:55

Yn sicr, mae yna rôl allweddol i gynllunio yma, ac mae wedi bod angen—. Mae'r newidiadau yma, mae wedi bod eu hangen nhw ers blynyddoedd lawer. Jest yn fras iawn, er mwyn gadael i bawb siarad, dwi'n meddwl y dylai'r fframwaith ganiatáu i awdurdodau lleol ac awdurdodau cynllunio allu gweithredu yn hyderus o blaid y Gymraeg. Dwi'n meddwl bod y sefyllfa wedi bod braidd yn niwlog yn y gorffennol, ac felly, ie, mi ddylai'r cyfundrefn ganiatáu gweithredu cadarn o blaid y Gymraeg, ac mae rhywun yn croesawu pob un awgrym yn adroddiad Dr Brooks sydd yn caniatáu hynna.

Certainly, there is a key role for planning in this area, and these changes have been required for many years. Just very briefly, to allow others to contribute, I think that the framework should allow local authorities and planning authorities to operate confidently in supporting the Welsh language. I do think that the situation has been rather ambiguous in the past, and so the system should allow robust action in favour of the Welsh language, and one welcomes every suggestion in the Dr Brooks report that allows that.

Ie, jest i ddweud dŷn ni wedi croesawu'r cynigion gan y Llywodraeth yn ddiweddar o ran creu dosbarthiadau defnydd newydd ar lety gwyliau ac ail dai, ac dŷn ni o blaid ei wneud e'n ofynnol i wneud cais cynllunio i newid tŷ i fod yn dŷ llety gwyliau, neu ail dŷ. Dŷn ni hefyd yn meddwl ei fod yn hollbwysig mai'r default yw y dylai unrhyw dŷ fod yn gartref prif breswyl, ac felly os oedd ail dŷ neu lety gwyliau yn mynd nôl ar y farchnad, fel petai, dŷn ni'n credu dylai hwnna wedyn—. Y default yw y dylai hwnna wedyn fod yn dŷ prif breswyl, ac, o beth rydyn ni'n deall o gynlluniau'r Llywodraeth, dyw hynny ddim yn rhan o'r cynlluniau, ac felly dyw e ddim yn mynd yn ddigon pell, achos mae angen cymryd mwy o'r stoc tai nôl mewn i fod yn gartrefi pobl leol mewn nifer o ardaloedd, nid jest stopio pethau fel y maen nhw nawr.

Yes, just to say that we have welcomed the proposals from the Government recently in terms of creating the new use classes with regard to holiday accommodation and second homes, and we're in favour of making it a requirement to make a planning application to change the use of a property to be a second home or holiday accommodation. We also think that it's vital that the default is that any house should be a primary residence, and so, if a second home or holiday accommodation were to go back on the market, we think that the default should be that that should be a primary residence. As we understand it from the Government's plans, that isn't part of the plan, so it doesn't go far enough, in our view, because we need to take more of the housing stock back into being homes for local people in a number of areas, not just stopping things as they currently are.

Ie. Hynny ydy, buaswn i'n dweud ein bod ni'n croesawu'r newidiadau sy'n cael eu cynnig ar hyn o bryd ar gyfer mynd i'r afael o safbwynt cynllunio. O ddweud hynny, mae gennym ni rywfaint o bryderon ynglŷn â sgil-effeithiau'r newidiadau yma mewn rhai mannau ar fannau eraill, ac eto, fel roedd Mabli yn sôn, beth sy'n digwydd pan yw cartref yn symud ymlaen i'r farchnad, hynny ydy, yn cael ei werthu. Mae Dr Brooks wedi nodi, wrth gwrs, fod tai sy'n mynd yn nôl—. Hynny ydy, mae ail gartrefi yn aml iawn yn troi yn brif gartrefi hefyd maes o law, ond, wrth gwrs, pwy sydd yn medru fforddio'r tŷ pan yw'n cael ei werthu pan fo'r pris eisoes yn andros o uchel? Ond ie—. Hynny ydy, yn ei hanfod, dwi'n meddwl bod angen gallu mynd mor—. Mae angen defnyddio trefn gynllunio i'r graddau eithaf posibl i fod yn mynd i'r afael efo'r broblem yma, felly.

Yes. I would say that we welcome the changes proposed at the moment in terms of issues around planning. Having said that, we do have some concerns about the impacts of some changes in some areas on other areas, and, as Mabli mentioned, what happens when a home is sold. Dr Brooks has noted, of course, that houses, or, rather, that second homes often become primary residences in due time, but who can afford that home when it is sold when the price is already very high indeed? But, yes, in its essence, we need to use the planning system as much as possible in order to tackle this problem.

Okay. Well, I'm afraid we've almost reached the end of our allotted time. There are some questions we haven't been able to reach during this session. We will write to you with some further questions. But thank you all very much—Professor Jones, Mabli, Lowri and Ruth—for coming in remotely to give evidence to the committee this morning. You will be sent a transcript to check for factual accuracy in the usual way. Diolch yn fawr.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 09:59 a 10:12.

The meeting adjourned between 09:59 a 10:12.

10:10
3. Ymchwiliad i ail gartrefi: sesiwn dystiolaeth 6—perchenogion ail gartrefi
3. Inquiry into second homes: evidence session 6—second home owners

Okay, item 3 on our agenda today is our sixth evidence session in our inquiry into second homes and related matters in Wales, and I'm very pleased to welcome Jonathan Morrison, who is representing the Home Owners of Wales Group. Jonathan, I will begin with some general questions before other committee members come in with questions of their own. And firstly, really, your general views on the Simon Brooks report and recommendations, and any specific concerns that you have.  

Good morning. Thank you very much for having us this morning. It's a bit nerve-wracking for me; I've not done this before, so please excuse me or correct me if you need to at any particular time. 

Okay. Well, the Simon Brooks report is an intelligent piece of literature. That's the first thing we'd say. We were a bit puzzled by it because we thought the question that everybody was asking was why there was a shortage of affordable housing in certain parts of Wales, and then the next thing we saw was this report, which is very narrowly concentrating on second homes as being the principal reason why there is a problem. So, it gives us a slight difficulty, that, because the presumption is that—. As far as we know up to this time, the Welsh Government are intending to follow quite a lot of those recommendations in his report. Correct me at any time if I'm wrong with these assumptions.

So, it is very critical of second homes. Throughout the report, it says 'problem with', 'problem with', 'problem with', so it's definitely following a trend, if you like. Some of our group have said it's very, very biased. I don't personally think it's biased; I think he's just doing what his brief was. His report will be per his brief. So, he was asked to look at second homes and how they might impact on the problems of culture, language, community and affordability, and I think he's done that pretty well. But, there are some omissions, there are some assumptions that we disagree with. So, that's the general approach that we have. But an intelligent piece of work, yes.

10:15

Okay. Well, we'll come to some of the more specific issues later on, Jonathan. Could I ask you to what extent second home owners have been involved in this policy development with Welsh Government and local authorities? Do you feel that you've been able to have a say?

Latterly, we have made contact with Huw Maguire, who listened patiently to us and has allowed us to engage with certain things. So, we've done a workshop and we've been on a few exchanges of e-mails and things like that, but I wouldn't say that we've had any influence as yet. I'm hoping that we will, because I was on the radio this morning and the questioner said, 'Oh, I gather your group are taking legal action against the Welsh Government.' I said, 'Well, I hope that that will never ever happen.' We love Wales, we love the Welsh culture, we love the Welsh people. As far as I'm concerned, in my group, and I'm just one of a small number, I do not wish to engage in anything hostile against people I love.

Jonathan, in terms of the number in the group, what is that number then as far as Wales is concerned?

At the moment, it's around 6,500, and to be fair with you it also includes a few people from the lake district, the Yorkshire national park, Cornwall and Devon.

Oh, there'd be—. Yes, it's over 6,000.

Okay. And would you say, Jonathan, that it's clear in terms of Welsh Government's objectives in terms of the issues around second homes? Are you clear as to what Welsh Government is about?

Yes. They seem to be very clear about the direction they're going. If you read the Brooks report, it's our impression that they're following a lot of those recommendations.

Okay. I'll bring in other committee members, Jonathan. Firstly, Mabon ap Gwynfor. Mabon.

Bore da, Jonathan. Diolch yn fawr iawn ichi am ymuno efo ni bore yma. Yn sydyn iawn, ydych chi'n meddwl bod y fath beth yn bosibl â chael gormod o ail dai mewn unrhyw un gymuned?

Good morning, Jonathan. Thank you very much to you for joining us this morning. Very briefly, do you think that it's possible to have too many second homes in any one community?

Sorry, I did push my interpretation button before, and it seems to have gone off. I'm terribly sorry about that.

No problem, I'll ask you in English. Do you think that you can have such a thing as too many second homes in a community?

That's a bit of a loaded question. I mean, 'yes', is the answer, there can be too many. Of course, there can be too many of anything. But, I think there's a slight problem in certain parts, particularly holiday destinations, where there is a big demand for holiday accommodation and so there's a slight displacement of locals as a result of that, but there's also a demand for affordable local housing in an area. So, you've got two things that fight against each other. So, do you disadvantage one for the other, or do you encourage both? This is sort of where I am, or where the group is, really, in trying to encourage both, without disadvantaging one against the other.

So, if you can have such a thing as too many second homes in a community, what is the figure you'd put that at, percentage wise?

Well, at the moment, in Gwynedd, for example, which is a prime example, I think we're talking about 10 or 11 per cent as holiday homes—holiday homes, and I'm embracing second homes as well with that. So, it's about 10 or 11 per cent at the moment. In terms of numbers, that is actually very few. The percentage is more worrying than the number. So, if you take an average town in the United Kingdom, with a population of say 40,000 as an average, we're talking about 4,000 to 6,000 homes, something like that, in Gwynedd, that are second homes; probably 6,000 actually, if you include the two groups.

10:20

Okay. That's Gwynedd. What about Aberdyfi? If you take Aberdyfi, where 40 per cent, 45 per cent of the homes are second homes or holiday lets, would you say that's a reasonable number?

It's a high number. Aberdyfi is a very small village, so, yes, I would agree with you. It's a high—

Not wanting to put words in your mouth, would you say that's sustainable or unsustainable?

It's sustainable if it is possible to release a little bit more land for affordable homes. This morning, I was talking to Cornwall about local businesspeople and fishermen not being able to afford properties in their own village in Cornwall, and that is a concern that has to be answered one way or the other. It's a serious concern. It's a genuine concern, and we totally, as a group, empathise with that. 

Just to go back to one thing you said earlier, you said 'We love Wales, we love the language, we love the culture', and that's great. I'm just trying to understand what you mean by that. Do you see this as a Wales versus England thing?

I don't. My family go back in Wales to 1680 and I have a fully fledged family tree that I'm very proud of. So, my Welsh heritage I'm very proud of. I'm not a Welsh speaker, unfortunately; my mother was. She never passed it down to me, unfortunately, so apologies for that. But, no, I don't think it's a Welsh/English thing, but I think, if a word comes to mind, it's 'slightly stubborn'. I would say the Welsh Government is slightly stubborn on this matter. They're very fixed on reducing the number of holiday homes, rather than saying, 'Well, we've got holiday homes, they're here, and we've also got a problem with local accommodation; how do we solve that?' 

I see a community as being both these groups. So, you've got holiday homes and you've got local, and they're both part of the community. And if there is one thing that's coming out in the Brooks report, it's that the community doesn't include second home owners, and, personally, I'm very insulted by that, because how many years does my family have to go back for me to be a local? I've had a property in Wales since I was 26. So, how many years does it take me to become a local? And I've participated in many local affairs too.

Thank you. And, finally—I know there are other Members with a number of questions they want to get on to, and we're limited with time—there are 60,000 people on the waiting lists for social housing in Wales. Do you think it's right that we have that number of people waiting for a roof over their head while a number of people have a second home that they can spend part of the year in?

Two issues there, Mabon. One is: do I think it's right that 60,000 people are waiting? No, I don't, and we don't as a group. Sorry, I'm saying 'I', but it's a group opinion. No, we don't think that that is right. Second home owners we'd like to separate from the issue, because there are waiting lists in Manchester and Birmingham, all the city metropolises, London. There are terrible waiting lists in those cities. So, the problem isn't only a Welsh problem. It is a problem that is nationwide. And if we start accepting migrants as well from Africa, from the middle east, and from Ukraine, the situation is going to get worse. Those housing list figures are going to get much, much higher. So, we have to do something very dynamic—very dynamic.

Now, is that going to benefit very much by the very few second homes in Wales, by persecuting those people or encouraging them to leave? These policies in the Brooks report will encourage people to leave Wales as second home owners; I don't think there's any doubt of that. So, if that is the aim and your policies are a result of that, then, yes, my view is that people will leave. Some will fight legally and some will leave, because they don't want to fight people that they like. I've got Welsh neighbours, I've got Welsh friends that I've had all my life since I was 12, and I'm not going to get into an argument with them. But, yes, what you say is absolutely right.

10:25

Thank you, Chair, and morning, Jonathan—thanks for joining us this morning. I just wanted to come on to where policy decision making and thinking should sit. You've got perhaps three layers where policy could sit—at a national, a regional or a very local, community level. And I believe, as a group, that you're more in favour of national policies being developed and sitting at a national level, rather than at a community or regional level. Would you be able just to explain a bit about why that would be?

Yes. I'm a chartered surveyor—I'm just about to retire at the moment, actually—and I've been around town and country planning all my life, and I have seen some terrible, terrible local planning decisions. But I think, in terms of planning policy, which is different than planning decisions, if you like, I very much think national government—your Government—is the right place to make the rules. You are the elected ones. For example, where my own holiday home is in north Wales, that's a Plaid council. You are a Labour Government, in partnership with Plaid at the moment. So, Plaid have their policies, probably a bit stronger than the Labour Government, but some of them are very, very good policies—I like them myself. But I think, together, the two parties believe in freedom, and freedom is very important in terms of planning. If you are going to restrict people with planning, you're taking away their freedoms. But you have to have planning rules in order to co-ordinate a proper way of forming communities. And so, national decisions—. You've been voted in by the public—a lot of our group voted in those elections—and what we would like to see is national government bringing in constructive methods, in terms of planning, to control, say, second homes. One of those would be, as Cornwall are doing, a moratorium. That doesn't require any legislation at all, and you just say to the councils, 'Look, you are locally there and if you want to contain second homes, you can contain them through a planning moratorium'. And that is a well-known instrument that many councils do use throughout the United Kingdom, and have used and continue to use. But they don't seem to be being used at the moment by the councils—whether they know they have these powers, I don't know, but they do.

Okay, thanks. Just to be clear, no members of the committee are in the Government, and particularly me—I'm a Conservative, so I'm not in government just yet. Thanks for your responses, but just in terms of other areas where governments, aside from second homes and holiday homes, are making decisions around housing more generally, do you think that second home owners and holiday home owners are perhaps being used as scapegoats for underinvestment in and underencouragement of housing being built more generally? Is that the issue we're seeing here, do you think?

I think that's the overwhelming opinion of our membership—yes, they all say that. The first thing they say to us, when they're enquiring about joining us, is exactly that—'Are their policies failed policies?' But, to defend Wales, that is the same in England as well. There are failed councils all over the place that have not managed to review their plans every five years. When I used to help build these plans, when I was much younger, I worked with councils—with Trafford Council, Manchester council—and they're on it all the time. Manchester, particularly now, are on it almost daily. They don't visit it every five years. They're saying, 'Are we on target to hit this number of houses or not?' All the different categories are looked after, and certainly, I think, or our group feels, that there's been a massive, 'Who do we blame?' Mr Drakeford has said that it's not a matter of blame, and I respect him as a leader. He's an honest and decent man. But I think he might have it slightly wrong. I don't think anybody should be blamed, but certainly, at the moment, it looks as though second home owners are being blamed. This whole Brooks report is about second home owners; it isn't about building new homes. It's about blaming second home owners, and it comes out like that, even though maybe that is unintended. And I admit it may not be intended in that way, but it has given great offence to thousands of people. Of course, it's been supported by thousands of people too. So, I suppose, one might say a good report comes out in that way—some agree with it and some disagree. We disagree.

10:30

Thank you, Chair. I just wanted to touch upon something that you said in your answers to Mabon earlier, and also my colleague Sam mentioned the view that second homes aren't necessarily the issue; it's the lack of affordable homes, and it's almost as if this is becoming like a scapegoat exercise—to draw attention away from councils' failing to provide affordable homes. I've got to admit, the more we speak, in the evidence sessions, I'm almost tending to agree with that assessment.

And I just wanted to touch upon taxation, and I've asked this of everyone really: what is the point of taxation with this purpose in terms of specifically going after second homes? You have the 100 per cent rate and, last week, there was talk of a 300 per cent increase on second homes, and I just wanted to get your idea on that. Do you see that as a punitive charge, rather than anything beneficial in terms of addressing the second homes issue? Is that just to say, 'Listen, we don't want you here, so we're going to charge you 300 per cent more on your council tax and it's up to you, then, whether or not you pay it'? I just wanted to get your idea on that and what the views of your group were when you saw that announcement.

Well, the vast majority of our membership can't afford 200 per cent council tax, let alone 300 per cent. Of course, you're not saying that it's going to be 300 per cent; you're just giving the powers to the councils to charge up to that, but most of them will go towards that—that is the way of that type of legislation in allowing people to charge. You've seen it with suppliers of energy and so on—there's a maximum, and they all tend to go up towards maximum. So, that will probably happen, and a great deal of people will be displaced and a great many people will not be able to afford that. So, there'll be arrears, there'll be court cases, but I think there will be—. I don't want to go into the legal action that some people in our group have been wanting to take right from the get-go. I'm saying, 'No, let's engage with the Welsh Government; you don't really want to go down that route. Let's try and get something constructive that we can all live with, that we're all happy with.' I've said before today, we are part of the community and I wish to remain part of the community—passionately I believe that. I don't want to be ostracised as a visitor or something like that. I am part of my Welsh community and I love it.

The 300 per cent council tax is punitive. It's not some economic dream ticket; it's punitive. They're using council tax for this instrument, and our legal advice is that section 12B, in the Housing (Wales) Act 2014—the Welsh housing Act—is unlawful because, by definition, it is discriminating against a certain group of people and you cannot do that with secondary legislation. Primary legislation—the Equality Act 2010, the Consumer Rights Act 2015, article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights—. These are all primary pieces of legislation. You cannot bring out secondary legislation that opposes that primary legislation—first rule of law. So, if you do that, it's the wrong instrument, so I believe that the Welsh Government are on thin ice with that. They need to perhaps look at some other form of taxation that is fairer and better. For example, many of our members have said, 'Why are they charging me 300 per cent? Do they think I'm rich because I've got a second home?' And they say, 'Well, you can afford it because you've got a second home.' How do you know? No-one's talked to any of our group that I know of, and said, 'How much do you earn?' It's despicable. I absolutely stick up for morals, social justice and fairness—absolutely 100 per cent won't argue with any of them, but you can't switch it on and off to just suit your argument. It's either fair, the same, or it's not. What would be fair is one council tax, one property. As soon the council tax premium came in, loads of people started flipping their residential properties to a commercial user, non-domestic rates. So, now that's ended up with the ridiculous situation of them not paying any rates because it's sub £12,000 rateable values, and also they don't pay any council tax, which is not right. They must pay a council tax. But can it not be one council tax? Why does it have to be more than that? One property, one council tax. Why does it have to be more?

10:35

Thanks for that. I note, from your submission, you've gone into detail about that, in the sense of council tax being a tax on the value of the property rather than on the wealth of the individual, or perceived wealth of the individual. Based on what you just said then, should there be a financial contribution, if any, from second home owners? There's talk of, for example, a tourism tax in terms of these communities, and even though I'm not in favour of that, the argument there is that the money is then invested into the community to better manage tourism numbers et cetera. And I was just wondering then, because you mentioned there that you're not necessarily against financially helping but that there are better ways, if you had any ideas on what better ways it could be managed, if that makes sense.

Well, Wales needs money and, for many, many years, it has been starved of money by the UK Government. So, it's not surprising now, after many, many years, with younger, more energetic politicians joining councils and Welsh Government, they're taking this issue on more seriously now. You've got to make money, we know that, but I think the way of making more money is through growth and bringing business into Wales.

Our issue is, we can't drive from north Wales to south Wales on a motorway or a fast road, even with electric cars. We can't get a train journey from Caernarfon to Cardiff without going into England and then back again, and that journey will take five to six and, if there's a delay, seven hours sometimes. The other thing is you've got airports in north Wales. You've got three. You've got Valley, you've got Caernarfon, and you've got Hawarden in Flintshire. So, you've got three airports there as well that could be developed, that could connect Cardiff with north Wales. So, there's huge potential in Wales—huge potential—and I think that if we worked more on those things, getting the economy so it's booming, these numbers of second homes that you're talking about will be insignificant because, in 10 years' time, or 15 years' time, you'll be building houses all over the place. Now, a lot of people might not like that in Wales, because it's a beautiful place, and you don't want to ruin Wales with houses, but it's an economy that has to grow. If Wales ever wants to be independent—we've asked this question of our membership and it's fairly neutral, actually—then that it has to have an economy. It can't join the EEC without an economy, so the economy has got to, got to improve. That isn't going to improve by driving people out of Wales from their second homes. The numbers involved are so small for this, it's a scapegoat, it's unfair, and the way forward is to take economic measures just to make it better. 

Now, we had a meeting with Gwynedd a few weeks ago and we were talking about business. And they said, 'Well, don't tell us off about business, because if you're going to lecture us about business, that's not your thing, so don't do it.' And I couldn't help myself, saying the same things. I said, 'Well, excuse me for saying it, I do respect you all'—and I do, they're hardworking councillors in Gwynedd that I get on with very well—but I said, 'You need to drive an economy, and if you don't have things that make money, you are always going to be left behind.' So, Wales, as whole—and this is another reason why national Government rather than local government is really, really important—needs to start banging its hand on the table and getting its fair share of funds from the UK Government. And we, as a group of people, would give you full backing on that.

10:40

Okay. Joel, we just have a few minutes left to us, I'm afraid, for this particular session. Carolyn, did you want to ask on planning?

Okay. I think planning's been touched on a little. We're talking about building more houses and then there wouldn't be such an issue with availability. But would you agree that land supply is an issue in areas where people choose to live that are beautiful, in west Wales? So, we can't just build houses everywhere because of land supply for housing. Do you think that's something that's an issue?

I think it's a view that, if people are wanting a Wales like it is now not to change, then, yes, I would agree with it. But if you are talking about a Wales for the future, I'm afraid it has to move, as every nation does, with the times. And if you are going to grow business and an economy, that will boost your number of property needs, both business needs, industrial parks, light industrial parks, and that will drive more houses, because people who are working in these extra busy communities will need more housing. It's a problem that is real, and I do agree with you, but you've got to confront it. And my view is that most—. A lot of the communities, particularly in mid to north Wales, do have land probably within 700 yards of their village or town centres—of scrub land. Somebody mentioned Aberdyfi. Pwllheli, Criccieth, Porthmadog, these are all areas—and Caernarfon, for that matter—they all have areas that could be developed without ruining the natural beauty of them. I know there's a raised eyebrow there, but that's my view. I'm a regular visitor to these places. You mentioned Aberdyfi, I think it's a beautiful, beautiful place, and it's arguable, because of the hills behind it, that you could actually develop that area, that immediate area. But if you go two miles further in, you would have land to do that. So, almost anywhere that you would care to mention, there is this available land and, yes, I would designate that for development. And if necessary, you reserve that for what your needs are at that particular time. This is what Cornwall is intending to do in their area.

Okay. Carolyn, I'm afraid that's all we've got time for. I'm sorry.

Jonathan, thanks very much for giving evidence to committee today. You will be sent a transcript to check for factual accuracy. Diolch yn fawr.

Thank you. Thank you, all, and best wishes to you.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:44 a 10:53.

The meeting adjourned between 10:44 and 10:53.

10:50
4. Ymchwiliad i ail gartrefi: sesiwn dystiolaeth 7—landlordiaid a grwpiau cymunedol
4. Inquiry into second homes: evidence session 7—landlords and community groups

I'd very much like to welcome Keith Henson, who is here with us in our committee room. Keith is a rural housing enabler with Barcud. We have Shan Lloyd Williams joining us remotely, chief executive of Grŵp Cynefin; Ffrancon Williams, chief executive of Adra; and Douglas Haig, non-executive director of the NRLA, the National Residential Landlords Association. Shortly, we will hopefully be joined also by Karen Holt, who is with the Bro Machno housing partnership. There are just a few technical issues with Karen at the moment. So, welcome, all.

Perhaps I might begin with some general questions. Firstly, the report and the recommendations by Dr Brooks and the impacts that they would have on the Welsh language and the supply of affordable housing, in your view, in terms of those provisions for second homes and short-term lets. Who would like to begin? Who would like to start off with a response?

Go on, then. I'll be brave, shall I? I'm Douglas Haig from the National Residential Landlords Association. I know I've spoken to many of you before, but some of you I've not spoken in front of before. So, we are the merger of two separate bodies that came together at the beginning of the pandemic, representing private sector landlords. So, generally, small private landlords with portfolios of one to 10, I suppose. We have a few members that are slightly larger across England and Wales, and we've got nearly 100,000 members post merger now.

So, from our perspective, having gone through Dr Brooks's paper, it's a—. Personally, I thought it was actually a well-written and well-balanced document; I was quite surprised by it. I think it, overall, gave lots of information and countered some misconceptions or some assumptions. But, from our perspective, something I think is very important, and something that Dr Brooks touches upon, is really understanding the classifications that we're talking about here, and that's why I think it's important to come in at this stage of the debate.

'Second homes' is something that can often encapsulate a wider variety of properties than necessarily it means to. So, from our perspective, 'second homes' is very much just individuals who are buying properties as their second home, to live in for a period of time, whether that's a long period or a short period, but it's their residential home that is an alternative to their main home. Whereas I think that we've also got 'short-term holiday lets', which is a second property but used for business purposes for holidays. It might be used as the owners' holiday home as well. And then, you've got second properties, which are investment properties as buy-to-let landlords. Whether they are accidental landlords or if they are professional investor landlords, you know, they are second properties.

From our perspective, we've seen a number of consequences of legislation that has started to try and address, potentially, the first area that I was talking about—so, a second residential property for somebody to stay in, as an alternative to their main home—but it's encapsulating the other two areas. I think we need to be very, very mindful of any legislation and how we're talking about things in these discussions as to which of these three areas we are trying to address. Because things like the stamp duty increases have massively impacted buy-to-let landlords, whether that was intentional or not. It is an impact, and you can see that on supply, and Dr Brooks actually mentions it in his paper as well.

So, I think that's the opening thing that I want to establish and be clear about, as we go through this process, in terms of coming up with concepts and ideas for legislation to tackle the various issues that communities and affordability are having. Because, you know, whereas it may be tackling one, it's having a detrimental impact on another, and maybe we can talk about that a little bit later. But I wanted to start by clarifying definitions.

10:55

Okay, Douglas. We will come on to these issues, but that's useful. Any other of our—? Yes. Ffrancon.

Gwnaf i siarad yn y Gymraeg, os ydy hynny'n iawn. Dwi'n meddwl bod y tri maes ymyrraeth yn mynd i helpu'r sefyllfa o ran arafu nifer yr ail gartrefi, ac yn hynny o beth, yn gyffredinol, mae'r tri maes i'w croesawu. Yn gyffredinol, dwi'n meddwl bod yr elfen o drethu yn mynd i ddod ag incwm ychwanegol i mewn, sydd yn iawn. Ond hwyrach, o ran arafu'r nifer o ail dai, mae'n debyg mai'r ymyrraeth yn y maes cynllunio sy'n mynd i gael yr effaith fwyaf, felly. Ond dydy'r tri maes yma ar eu pennau eu hunain—. Mae angen i'r tri maes ymyrraeth gael eu cyflwyno mewn ffordd sydd ddim yn disjointed. So, mae'n rhaid i'r tri ddod at ei gilydd, mae'n debyg, mewn ffordd sydd ddim allan o sequence. Ond hefyd, mae'n rhaid i'r dair ymyrraeth blethu mewn efo meysydd eraill pwysig, er enghraifft, sut mae rhywun yn datblygu strategaeth economaidd wledig, pa strategaethau sydd mewn lle ar gyfer cynnal cymunedau cynaliadwy ac yn y blaen. So, yn gyffredinol, dwi'n meddwl bod y tri lefel o ymyrraeth yn mynd i helpu o ran arafu y broblem ail dai, ac yn hynny o beth, mi ddylai hynny helpu wedyn o ran dirywiad yn yr iaith Gymraeg o fewn y meysydd yna. Ond dydy o ddim o reidrwydd yn mynd i ymateb i'r cyflenwad tai ar ben ei hunan. Mae angen mwy o dai, mae'n debyg, o fewn y cymunedau yma dŷn ni'n sôn amdanynt, felly mae'n rhaid hefyd cael strategaeth i ddarparu tai fforddiadwy yn yr ardaloedd yma, ac, wrth gwrs, mae'r Llywodraeth wedi buddsoddi lot yn y maes yma. Dŷn ni'n croesawu hynny, ond hwyrach bod angen targedu mwy tuag at gymunedau sydd yn dioddef o'r broblem yma. A hefyd mae'r rheini, mae'n debyg—. Mae'r diffiniad 'tai fforddiadwy' yn cynnwys tai ar rent, ond hefyd tai i'w prynu ar lefel lle mae yna ddisgownt o'i gymharu hefo'r pris ar y farchnad. So, gwnaf i stopio yn fanna.

I will be contributing in Welsh, if that's okay. I think the three areas of intervention will help the situation in terms of slowing the numbers of second homes, and in that regard, in general terms, then all three are to be welcomed. Generally speaking, I think the element of taxation will bring in additional income, which is good. But in terms of slowing the growth in second homes, I suppose the interventions in planning will have the greatest effect. But these three areas individually aren't—. The three interventions need to be introduced in a way that isn't disjointed. So, all three must be drawn together in a co-ordinated way that isn't out of sequence. But the three interventions also have to dovetail with other important areas, for example, how one develops an economic strategy in a rural context, what strategies are in place to support sustainable communities, and so on and so forth. So, generally speaking, I think the three levels of intervention will help in slowing the growth of second homes, and in that regard, that should assist in terms of the decline in the Welsh language in those areas. But it isn't necessarily going to respond to the supply issue in the housing system on its own. We need more homes within these communities, so we also need a strategy to provide affordable homes in these areas, and, of course, the Government has invested a lot in this area, and we welcome that, but we need to target more towards the communities that are suffering as a result of this problem. And also, those—. The definition of affordable housing includes rental accommodation, but also homes to be purchased at a level where there is a discount compared to the price on the open market. But I'll stop there.

11:00

Diolch. Mi fyddaf innau'n siarad trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg hefyd. Mi fyddem ni, fel Grŵp Cynefin, yn sicr yn croesawu'r argymhellion sydd o fewn adroddiad Dr Brooks. Mae yna nifer, wrth gwrs, o ymgynghoriadau pellach wedi digwydd ers hynny, ac rydym wedi cymryd rhan allweddol wrth ymateb i'r ymgynghoriadau hynny.

Mae angen ychydig bach yn fwy o gyflymder yn sut dŷn ni'n mynd i fod yn ymateb i'r argymhellion, neu y peryg ydy y byddwn ni wedi colli'r ewyllys da sydd o fewn cymunedau. Mae'r cymunedau'n barod ac yn awyddus i weithio a gweld yr argymhellion yma'n cael eu symud ymlaen a'n gweld ni yn datblygu datrysiadau i'r problemau.

Ar ben eu hunain, dydy'r datrysiadau ddim yn mynd i wneud llawer o wahaniaeth, yn fy marn i, ond wedi eu cyfuno, er enghraifft y datganiad fuodd yn ddiweddar am yr hawl i godi treth y cyngor i fyny i 300 y cant—mae angen cael pethau eraill mewn lle ar unwaith ar hwnna er mwyn gwneud gwir wahaniaeth.

Dwi'n bersonol hefyd yn byw o fewn un o'r ardaloedd sydd wedi cael eu heffeithio a dwi wedi gweld yn bersonol beth ydy'r effaith ar gymuned, ar yr iaith Gymraeg, a dwi'n fwy na pharod i rannu mwy ar beth ydy fy mhrofiadau i nes ymlaen yn ystod y sesiwn bore yma. Diolch.

Thank you. I will be speaking through the medium of Welsh too. We, as Grŵp Cynefin, would certainly welcome the recommendations within Dr Brooks's report. There are a number, of course, of further consultations that have taken place since then, and we've taken part, and a key part, in responding to those consultations.

There is a need for a little bit more in terms of our response to the recommendations, or the danger is that we will have lost the goodwill within communities. The communities are ready and eager to act and to see these recommendations being pursued and to see us developing solutions to the issues.

On their own, these solutions aren't going to make a great deal of difference, in my view, but taken together, for example the announcement recently with regard to the right to increase council tax up to 300 per cent—we need to get other things in place too immediately on that to make a genuine difference.

I personally live in one of the areas that have been affected, and I've seen personally what the impact is on a community, on the Welsh language, and I am more than ready to share more in terms of my experiences later on in this morning's session. Thank you.

Diolch. Diolch yn gyntaf am y gwahoddiad i lawr. Fel rhywun sydd yn gweithio o fewn maes tai gwledig, a'n treial hwyluso'r ffaith bod tai gwledig yn cael eu hadeiladu yn yr ardaloedd rŷn ni i gyd yn delio â fan hyn—. Mae cymdeithas tai fel Barcud, sydd ag ardaloedd yng Ngheredigion ac ym Mhowys, yn gweithio mewn meysydd gwledig iawn, ac rwy'n credu bod yr ymyrraeth hon sydd ar gael trwy'r polisïau mae Dr Simon Brooks yn eu hargymell, a hefyd, i ategu fel mae Shan a Ffrancon wedi sôn amdano—mae'r ymyraethau hyn i gyd eisiau cydweithio, ond mae eisiau iddynt ddod ar gyflymder. Rŷn ni'n barod yn gweld ers y storm berffaith o Brexit a COVID, wrth gwrs, fel mae niferoedd wedi symud i mewn i'r ardaloedd hyn sydd yn meddwl wedyn, wrth gwrs, fod ein pobl leol ni yn gorfod chwilio am dai tu allan i'r fro lle maen nhw wedi cael eu geni a'u codi i fyny. Felly, mae eisiau sicrhau bod yr ymyraethau hyn i gyd yn dod at ei gilydd er mwyn codi mwy o dai fforddiadwy, sicrhau bod yna wahanol brojectau ar gael ac ymyraethau gan lywodraeth leol a hefyd gan Lywodraeth Cymru er mwyn ariannu y gwahanol brojectau yma sydd eu hangen arnon ni.

Wrth gwrs, hefyd, o fewn ardaloedd gwledig, mae'n costio tipyn mwy i adeiladu ar dir, efallai, sydd ddim mor berffaith â beth fyddai fe i mewn yng nghanol trefi. Felly, mae eisiau inni sicrhau bod hynny'n gallu bod yn fforddiadwy hefyd a bod ffynhonnell arian ar gael.

Wrth gwrs, gyda'r ymyrraeth o ran y dreth gyngor a'r premiwm yn cael ei godi, rŷn ni'n gobeithio bod hynny'n mynd i gyfrannu at y modelau hyn, ond, wrth gwrs, mae eisiau inni sicrhau hefyd fod y busnesau yma sydd ar yr arfordir yn cael eu galluogi i gadw i fynd.

Felly, mae eisiau inni sicrhau bod yr ymyraethau yma yn rhywbeth rŷn ni i gyd yn gallu delio ag e, achos hefyd y broblem arall, efallai, ac rwy'n siŵr fel rŷch chi gyd yn gwybod—un o'r problemau mwyaf sydd gyda ni o ran datblygu yn yr ardaloedd gwledig ar hyn o bryd yw'r gair 'ffosffad'—phosphates, wrth gwrs. Mae hynny'n atal lot o adeiladu yn yr ardaloedd hyn, yn enwedig lle mae Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru wedi dod ag ymyraethau mewn fanna. Felly, mae eisiau inni sicrhau bod Llywodraeth Cymru a Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru yn dod dros yr heriau hyn er mwyn inni alluogi tai fforddiadwy i gael eu hadeiladu. A hefyd, peth arall, wrth gwrs, yw, fel rhywun sydd yn gweithio â chymunedau, cynghorau lleol, cynghorau cymuned, a chymdeithasau tai, dwi yn gredwr cryf fod cymdeithasau tai yn un o'r atebion i wella'r sefyllfa hon, achos mae'r profiad yna, mae'r sgiliau yna, mae'n barod tenantiaid i gael gyda ni, ond, wrth gwrs, mae yna restr aros hir hefyd yn ein hardaloedd ni.

Thank you, and thank you, first of all, for the invitation to be with you. As one who works in rural housing, and tries to facilitate the construction of housing in rural areas, which is what we are all dealing with here—. Housing associations such as Barcud, which covers Ceredigion and areas of Powys, works in very rural areas, and I think that the interventions available through the policies that Dr Simon Brooks recommends, as Shan and Ffrancon have already mentioned—all of these interventions need to be co-ordinated, but they need to be done at pace. We're already seeing a perfect storm of Brexit and COVID in terms of the numbers moving into these areas, which means that our local people have to seek housing outwith the areas where they've been born and raised. So, we do need to ensure that these interventions all come together in order to construct more affordable homes, to ensure that there are different projects and interventions available through local government and the Welsh Government in order to fund these various projects that we need.

Also, of course, within rural areas, it costs a lot more to build on land that isn't, perhaps, as perfect as it might be in town centres. We need to ensure that that too is affordable, and that there is funding available.

Of course, in terms of increasing the premium on council tax, we do hope that that will contribute to these models, but, of course, we also need to ensure that these businesses in coastal areas can continue to operate.

So, we need to ensure that all of these interventions are manageable, because another problem, and I'm sure you're all aware of this—one of the biggest problems we have in terms of development in rural areas is the word 'phosphates'. Of course, that is preventing a great deal of construction in these areas, particularly where NRW have introduced measures. So, we need to ensure that Welsh Government and NRW get over these challenges to enable affordable homes to be built. And also, another issue, as one working with communities, local councils, community councils, housing associations, I am a strong believer that housing associations are one of the solutions to this problem because the experience is there, the skills are there, we already have tenants, and, of course, there is a lengthy waiting list in those areas too.

11:05

Yes, okay. Keith, you mentioned some of the issues in terms of available land for building, and I'd like to get on to coastal and rural communities and some of these challenges that are faced in terms of building enough affordable homes and creating sustainable communities. A previous witness to committee talked about, even in some of the most beautiful areas of Wales, land being available for building that could be used—he referred to 'scrub' land, I think, as he described it, that's often on the edge of villages that could be used, and even if that wasn't possible, there would be, inland, perhaps, within a two-mile distance of these coastal and rural communities, land that might be used. So, I'd be interested in witnesses' views as to just how we might in Wales be able to take forward this affordable housing and create this sustainability. Is that possible? Is the land there? Or is the nature of these communities such that that's a very, very big obstacle?

A allaf i ddod mewn fanna yn gyntaf? Mae yna bolisi safleoedd gwledig i gael, y rural exception sites. Dwi'n gwybod, yn Lloegr, fel dwi'n deall, mae yna gyfleoedd i bobl werthu tir sydd yn dod o dan y safleoedd hyn, ond hefyd efallai fod y perchnogion yn gallu dal nôl rhai o'r plotiau tir er mwyn lles eu hunain, er mwyn eu teulu neu i werthu ymlaen ar y farchnad agored. Ond mae e'n galluogi tir i gael ei roi i mewn yn y system fforddiadwy, achos, wrth gwrs, mae pris plot o dir i adeiladu tŷ arno yn gallu mynd am o leiaf £50,000, lan i £100,000 mewn ardaloedd gwledig, yn enwedig y rhai ar yr arfordir, wrth gwrs—os nad mwy. Ond dwi'n credu hefyd, rŷch chi'n edrych wedyn ar dir amaeth—£7,000, £8,000—prisiau popeth yn codi ar hyn o bryd, yn anffodus. So, mae yna gyfle, efallai, i brynu tir yn y canolradd yna, sydd yn ei wneud e'n fwy fforddiadwy, ond hefyd mae eisiau sicrhau bod cynllun datblygu lleol yn cael ei ddatblygu ac yn ddeinamig, wrth gwrs—yn gallu symud ymlaen fel mae'r amser yn symud ymlaen.

Economi—un o'r pethau mwyaf pwysig, wrth gwrs: mae eisiau inni sicrhau bod swyddi i gael yna. Achos, ar yr arfordir, un o'r pethau mwyaf, wrth gwrs, yw twristiaeth, ond mae hynny yn y tymor byr, efallai chwe mis y flwyddyn. Ydy e'n gynaliadwy dros 12 mis? Ddim gyda'r tywydd rŷn ni'n ei gael. Felly, mae eisiau inni sicrhau bod swyddi mwy parhaol i gael. Sut mae gwneud hynny? Mae eisiau, eto, efallai, ymyrraeth Llywodraeth er mwyn datblygu mwy o'r economi, ond efallai mai'r peth mwyaf yw sicrhau bod pobl yn gallu byw yn yr ardaloedd maen nhw angen, lle maen nhw'n moyn, a lle mae'n bosib gwneud hynny. Os ydyn ni'n meddwl, efallai, am arfordir bae Ceredigion, wrth gwrs, sydd yn mynd lan i'r gogledd, mae hynny'r un peth fanna, yn enwedig yn yr ardaloedd peilot yn y gogledd fanna. 

Can I come in first there? Of course, there is a policy with regard to rural exception sites. I know that in England, as I understand it, there are opportunities for people to sell land that comes under the definition of these sites, but also that the owners can hold back some of the plots of land for their own benefit, for their family or to sell on the open market. But that enables land to be placed within the affordable system, because the price of a plot for constructing a house on can range from at least £50,000, up to £100,000, in some coastal areas in particular—if not more. So, I think, too, you look then at agricultural land—£7,000, £8,000—prices are increasing at the moment, unfortunately. There are opportunities to purchase land at that scale, which makes it more affordable, but also we need to ensure that local plans are developed and that they're dynamic so that they can respond and move with the times.

The economy is one of the most important things, of course. We need to ensure that there are jobs, because, in coastal areas, one of the biggest things is tourism, of course, but that is a short-term issue; it's over six months, it's not sustainable over 12 months with the weather that we have. So, we need to ensure that there are more permanent jobs available. How do we do that? Well, again, we need Government intervention, perhaps, to develop the local economies, but perhaps the greatest thing is to ensure that people can live in the areas where they want to live, where they need to live and where it's possible for them to do that. So, if we think in terms of coastal areas, and Cardigan bay, which extends up to the north, the same is true there, particularly in the pilot areas in the north.

Diolch yn fawr. Argaeledd tir, pris tir—dyna ydy rhai o'r ffactorau, a hefyd argaeledd contractwyr. Dydy cwmnïau sydd o'r maint sydd ei angen i ddatblygu tai, does ganddyn nhw ddim diddordeb mewn dod i lefydd cefn gwlad achos mae'r costau'n mynd i fod yn uwch ac mae eu profit margin nhw'n mynd i fod yn llai. Felly, mae'n bosib cydweithio efo contractwyr bach lleol, o bosib, a rhoi'r hyder iddyn nhw i fod yn tendro ac yn cydweithio yn well efo'i gilydd. Dŷn ni'n gwybod hefyd fod costau adeiladu eu hunain wedi cynyddu yn ddiweddar. Mae gen i ystadegau fan hyn o ran cost fesul metr sgwâr. Mae o wedi codi o £1,900 y metr sgwâr i £2,500, yn ddiweddar, y metr sgwâr. Mae'r rhain yn ystadegau byw rŵan. Dŷn ni hefyd yn ymwybodol o'r cynnydd sydd wedi bod mewn costau deunyddiau a hefyd cyflogaeth. Dŷch chi'n sôn am o leiaf 20 y cant, weithiau i fyny i 35 y cant mewn rhai deunyddiau adeiladu. Felly, mae hynny ynddo'i hun yn mynd i fod yn golygu bod adeiladu mewn ardaloedd gwledig dipyn uwch, ac mae'n rhaid cael yr arian ar gyfer cefnogi hynny. Ac, wrth gwrs, dŷn ni fel sector yn croesawu'r ffaith bod Llywodraeth Cymru yn barod wedi rhoi dosraniad hael tuag at adeiladu tai fforddiadwy ar draws Cymru, ond dwi'n meddwl bod angen ystyried ffactor ardaloedd gwledig hefyd uwchben y fformiwla sy'n cael ei defnyddio wrth ddatblygu tai. Diolch.

Thank you very much. The availability of land, the price of land—those are some of the factors, and also the availability of contractors. Companies of the scale required to develop housing aren't interested in coming to rural areas because the costs will be higher and their profit margin will be narrower. So, it is possible to collaborate with small, local contractors, and to give them the confidence to tender and to collaborate more effectively with each other. We also know that construction costs have increased recently. I have some statistics here in terms of cost per square metre. It's increased from £1,900 to £2,500 recently. Now, those are live statistics. We're also aware of the increases that there have been in materials costs and in salary cost. You're talking about at least 20 per cent, up to 35 per cent increase in terms of some building materials. So that, in and of itself, will mean that building in rural areas will be more expensive, and we need funding to support that. And, of course, as a sector, we welcome the fact that Welsh Government has already given a good allocation for building homes across Wales, but I think we need to consider rurality on top of the formula currently used in building homes and houses. Thank you.

11:10

Okay. Diolch, Shan. Any other views before we move on to other matters? Yes. Karen.

Hi. I'm no expert, I'm just a mother of three children who's quite anxious about how quickly our house prices are going up. A few things that I would like to ask—I live in Snowdonia National Park and we have a tight building constraint. Now, we're trying to look at other ways we can make it affordable for local people by trying to rebuild rural housing and develop barns, but we seem to be hitting the structured planning regulation a lot with the national park, although it's a national legislation, about if the walls haven't got four structured walls, then the build can't be granted. These are, obviously, things that would be resolved in the build. I was just wondering if there's flexibility for local communities to empower us, really, to be able to think out of the box and to find other ways of being able to stay in our communities. My children, obviously, they are the future generation, and they're already worried—my 14-year-old—that he won't be able to afford to live in the place he loves.

Okay, thank you very much for that, Karen, that's very useful evidence, in terms of the impact and the issues. Ffrancon.

Jest, eto, yn y Gymraeg. Jest un sylw i ychwanegu at beth mae pobl wedi'i ddweud yn barod a pha mor anodd ydy o i ddatblygu mewn meysydd gwledig o fewn y cymdeithasau tai ac o fewn y cymunedau yma. Mae'r cymdeithasau tai yn well placed i helpu yn y maes yma ac wedi arfer datblygu o fewn y fath heriau. Ond beth sydd ei angen i gydredeg efo'r ymyrraeth sy'n cael ei gynnig drwy adroddiad Simon Brooks ydy cydnabyddiaeth bod y costau, fel mae Shan wedi sôn, yn uwch, ond bod y fframwaith lle mae'r adnoddau neu'r gefnogaeth drwy'r Llywodraeth yn cael ei weinyddu yn ddigon hyblyg i fod yn gallu rhoi'r un lefel o flaenoriaeth i ddatblygiad mewn maes gwledig a fyddai rhywun yn rhoi i ddatblygiad mewn lle trefol. Does yna ddim amheuaeth bod datblygu mewn maes trefol yn haws ac yn fwy effeithlon yn ariannol nag ydy o mewn maes gwledig, ond mae'n rhaid cael yr un un cydbwysedd i'r ddau. Os nad ydy'r gefnogaeth yna, ar hyblygrwydd yna yn bodoli, o ran didoli'r arian a'r gefnogaeth i feysydd gwledig, yna mi gaiff y meysydd trefol fwy o flaenoriaeth, a dydy hynny ddim yn mynd i helpu'r achos dŷn ni'n ei drafod y bore yma.

Again, in Welsh. I'll make one comment to add to what colleagues have already said in terms of costs and how difficult it is to develop in rural areas within the housing associations and within these communities. Housing associations are well placed to assist in this field and are used to developing in the face of these challenges. But what we need to coincide with the intervention that is provided through Simon Brooks's report is an acknowledgement that the costs, as Shan has mentioned, are higher, but that the framework where the resources or the support is available through the Government and that that is administered is sufficiently flexible to be able to provide the same level of priority to a development in rural areas as one would give to a development in an urban area. There is no doubt that development in an urban area is easier, is more efficient, financially, than it is in a rural area, but you have to strike the same balance and give the same priority to both. If that support isn't available and the flexibility isn't available in terms of allocating funding and support to rural areas, then the urban areas will be given greater priority, and that isn't going to help the case that we're discussing this morning.

Okay. Diolch yn fawr, Ffrancon. I'll bring in other committee members, and, firstly, Mabon ap Gwynfor. Mabon.

Helo, bore da. Diolch yn fawr iawn ichi am ddod y bore yma a rhoi eich arbenigedd. Dwi'n ddiolchgar iawn ichi. Dwi'n deall bod yna broblem dechnegol, ac felly byddaf i'n holi fy nghwestiwn yn Saesneg.

Good morning, and thank you very much for joining us this morning and providing your expertise. I'm very grateful to you. I understand that we do have a technical problem, so I will ask my question in English.

With apologies to Douglas, I will get on to some of the issues that you raised, Douglas, in a minute. I just want to take this opportunity, actually, to take a step back if I may, Chair. Since we've got three representatives here who represent on-the-ground communities and see the impacts—actually, four with Barcud; sorry, Keith—can we just have an overview of the situation in the communities that you work in? What are the pressures in our communities in as much as people being able or not being able to afford homes to live or to rent, and the pressures added on because, maybe, of second homes, holiday lets or other factors?

11:15

Okay, who would like to begin? I must say that they'd have to be fairly brief answers, I'm afraid, because committee time is limited, but who would like to begin? Keith.

Fel hwylusydd tai gwledig sy'n deilio ag unigolion hefyd o ran gwahanol fudiadau, dros y cyfnod clo, roedd yna sawl achos ble roedd landlordiaid, yn anffodus, yn gweld efallai fod prisiau tai yn cynyddu, a'u bod nhw'n rhoi rhybudd i symud allan i rai o'r tenantiaid o chwe mis, achos roedd y prisiau yn mynd lan a'u bod nhw'n gweld bod mwy o arian yn cael ei wneud fel hynny, ond hefyd ble roedd rhai o'r landlordiaid yn troi eu tai mewn i Airbnb, achos eu bod nhw'n gallu cael mwy o ran incwm fel hynny na beth oedden nhw'n gallu ei gael fel rhent. Wrth gwrs, mae hynny wedyn yn rhoi pwysau ar y cofrestrau tai yn lleol. Ar hyn o bryd, rŷn ni dros ryw 1,500, rwy'n credu, yng Ngheredigion, a does dim digon o dai i'w cael yna i alluogi'r bobl yna i symud mewn iddyn nhw. Rŷch chi'n siarad am deuluoedd, teuluoedd Cymraeg, teuluoedd sydd yn cyfrif eu hunain yn Gymry, ac, wrth gwrs, mae gofid fanna hefyd o ran ystadegau'r ONS, dechrau'r wythnos, dwi'n credu, fod pobl sy'n cyfrif eu hunain fel Cymry yng Ngheredigion ar hyn o bryd wedi mynd i lawr i 52 y cant, ac mae hwnna'n bictiwr ar draws yr holl wlad. Felly, mae sawl pwysau yn dod mewn arnom ni fel cymdeithasau tai er mwyn galluogi bod mwy o stoc ar gael.

As a rural housing enabler who deals with individuals on behalf of various organisations, over lockdown there were a number of cases where landlords, unfortunately, saw that house prices were increasing, and they would give notice to some of their tenants—they would give six months' notice—because the prices were going up and they saw more profit in selling up, but also where some of the landlords were turning their houses into Airbnbs because they could generate more income than they could through rent. And then that put pressure on local housing waiting lists. I think there are some 1,500 in Ceredigion at the moment on the list, and there aren't enough homes available for those people. You're talking about families, Welsh-speaking families, families that consider themselves to be Welsh, and, of course there is concern there in terms of statistics from the ONS at the start of this week, I think, that the people who consider themselves to be Welsh in Ceredigion at the moment is down to 52 per cent, and that is the picture across the country. So, there are a number of pressures involved on us as housing associations in providing more stock.

Yes, I'd just like to say that pre COVID we were running at 29 per cent of our housing stock was now second homes. The issues on the ground at the moment are cash buyers; local people just can't beat them on it, and that is driven by the Airbnb surge. We're also missing out on our one- and two-bedroomed cottages, the stepping stones for local people. They've been swept up. So, those are the problems we have on the ground at the moment.

Diolch. Ie, fforddiadwyedd: fforddiadwyedd rhentu, fforddiadwyedd prynu tai, diffyg tai ar y farchnad—munud mae yna dai yn mynd ar werth, wel, mae'r arwydd 'gwerthwyd' wedi mynd arnyn nhw bron o fewn ychydig o oriau erbyn hyn—cynnydd mewn niferoedd lleteiau Airbnb, ac yn y blaen. Mae gennym ni ystadegau fan hyn. Er enghraifft, mae 95 y cant o boblogaeth leol Abersoch wedi cael eu prisio allan o'r farchnad prynu tai, ac mae yna 114 o Airbnbs jest yn y pentref yna. Llefydd wedyn fel Morfa Nefyn, mae 67.9 y cant wedi cael eu prisio allan o'r farchnad. Mae yna ddiffyg tai ar gyfer rhent yn y farchnad agored hefyd. Rydyn ni wedi gwneud nifer o astudiaethau yn ddiweddar trwy'r tîm hwyluswyr tai gwledig, a does yna ddim tai i'w rhentu hyd yn oed i'w cael rŵan. Mae yna andros o lot o bwysau a galw am dai rhent cymdeithasol, ac mae ystadegau ar gael, dwi'n siŵr, gan yr awdurdodau lleol o faint o bobl sydd yn aros yn fanna.

Ac wrth gwrs, nid yn unig yr argyfwng yma sydd gennym ni yn y cefn gwlad, ond mae gennym ni argyfwng hefyd o ddiffyg llefydd i bobl, gweithwyr allweddol, fod yn byw yn lleol, ac mae hynna wedyn yn arwain at fwy o bwysau ar wasanaethau cymdeithasol a hefyd iechyd. Does yna nunlle i'r unigolion yma fyw yn lleol. Diolch.

Thank you. Yes, affordability: affordability of rent, affordability in terms of purchasing homes, a lack of homes on the market—the fact that, when homes go on the market the 'sold' sign goes up within a few hours now—an increase in the numbers of Airbnb accommodation and so on. We have statistics here. For example, 95 per cent of the local population in Abersoch have been priced out of the market in terms of purchasing a house, and 114 Airbnbs are located in that village. In Morfa Nefyn, 67.9 per cent have been priced out of the market. There is a lack of rental properties in the open market too. We've undertaken many surveys through the rural enablers team, and there are no homes for rent available now. There's a great deal of pressure and demand for social rental properties, and statistics are available, I'm sure, from local authorities in terms of how many people are waiting for those.

And of course, it's not just this crisis that we're facing in rural areas—there's also a crisis of a lack of places for key workers to be working and living locally, and that then leads to greater pressure on social services and health services. There is nowhere for these individuals to live locally. Thank you.

Diolch yn fawr iawn am yr atebion yna. Mae'n boen calon clywed rhai cymunedau dwi'n eu cynrychioli yn cael eu henwi fanna, ac dwi'n llawn ymwybodol o'r pryderon yno. Diolch.

Thank you very much for those responses. It's heartbreaking to hear some communities that I represent being named there, and I'm fully aware of those concerns. So, thank you for that.

If I can just ask then—. Douglas, you touched on this, the definitions around second homes, holiday homes. We don't seem to have a legal definition as to what constitutes a second home in this respect. How helpful would it be for us to have clear definitions of what we're talking about here in order to develop a policy around the control or the use of holiday lets, second homes, holiday homes, whatever you might want to call them? 

11:20

I think it would be very useful and, to be honest, it's only been highlighted in the consequences of some of the drivers behind this over the last four or five years. I was fortunate enough to come to a Plaid Cymru conference about five years ago and held a fringe event there, and that gave me a lot of information about what a lot of the drivers were that were being pushed through by Plaid and by the incumbent Welsh Government at the time, as to why changes were being made—motivations around stamp duty changes and the council tax increases that have since been implemented. And there was an awful lot of confusion when I was talking to either Plaid councillors or just attendees at that conference as to what a second home was, and what was impacting things. I've listened to the comments that have been made by my fellow panellists, and I fully understand where they're coming from and appreciate the difficulties that are being experienced by those communities, and certainly not by the same extent, but the difficulties are actually being experienced by some of our members. 

Now, we are not a representative body that presents people that rent as a holiday let. So, this transition from long-term private rental—. We support long-term, safe, secure homes for families that also provide good investments for the long term for the families and the pension pots of people that buy those properties. But this transition into Airbnb, shall we say, to short-term holiday lets, has been partly pushed by a lot of the implementation of policies that have been happening. So, the increase in the stamp duty has meant that coming into the market is much more expensive, so therefore people that do that are looking for higher returns. The increase in legislation in the private rented sector, much, much of which is positive, but sometimes is a little bit heavy handed and not done sympathetically, is increasing costs. So, people are looking for alternatives to maintain or stay in the market. 

A comment also is that the house prices have increased. So, I think it's something like—. Our recent surveys have been that 37 per cent of landlords are looking at exiting, 11 per cent are increasing, and that's having a massive impact on the amount of private rental stock that's on the market. I did a search on Rightmove last night. Anglesey has two one- and two-bedroomed properties available at the moment. The Llŷn peninsula has two one- and two-bedroomed properties available at the moment. Gwynedd has 38 one- and two-bedroomed properties available right now. Only six of them are outside of Bangor. That's horrendous. How are people supposed to find affordable rental properties? And bearing in mind that we're talking about maintaining young people in these communities, it's the first stepping stone. They've got to be able to find affordable properties to live in, whether that's through social housing—which, absolutely, we support that growth in social housing and affordable housing—or whether it's affordable rental properties. But if you've got one or two properties available, that's not going to be affordable, is it, because it's very much a demand-led market.

So, we've got to consider what we want in the marketplace, to go back to your point, and have these definitions available to us to say, well, actually, we do want private rented properties available—we want properties that are available for long-term let for young people and families, and we want to encourage this so that we make sure we are insulating that sector of the market away from maybe other areas that we're going to be potentially legislating around by introduction of planning conditions or other taxation changes, so that it can be finessed. Because Wales-wide policy introductions, or even local authority-wide policy introductions on second homes, could damage the market in those areas even more. And unfortunately, it is an area that we've warned about for some time, and we're starting to see that in areas like this that have increasing additional pressures. 

[Inaudible.]—pop in on the social housing side of things. I've got three sons. I just want to move forward with the fact that social housing doesn't support single men at the moment. I find in my village we have a struggle with getting them affordable housing. I think they're a market that's forgotten about a lot of the time, especially when they've been in relationships that have broken up and they want to stay in the local area for the benefit of their children. I think they're just a group of people that have been forgotten about. And I just think if we are pushing forward on our next generation, we have to give them the chance as well to have affordable homes in their local areas. 

11:25

Okay. Thank you, Karen. I think we may have to move on at this stage to Sam Rowlands. 

Thank you, Chair. Morning, everybody. Just in terms of lots of concerns and issues raised, rightfully so, by the panel today—and obviously we're trying to focus some of our attention on second homes, the impact of second homes and holiday homes on some of these issues—with that in mind, in terms of policy, and where policy should be developed and managed, I suppose, I'd be interested to hear from the panel where you think that might best sit, whether it's at a national level, to have a national policy, or whether you could have a county or regional level, or perhaps a very local community level, in terms of policy setting to do with some of the issues that have been highlighted. 

Mi wnaf i gychwyn y drafodaeth jest drwy ddweud, dwi'n meddwl, fod angen fframwaith cenedlaethol, ond dydy un seis ddim yn mynd i ffitio bob sefyllfa, achos mae'r cymunedau, a'r problemau maen nhw'n eu gwynebu, yn amrywio o gwmpas y pwnc o ail dai. So, dwi'n meddwl beth y buaswn i'n ei argymell ydy bod yna ddigon o hyblygrwydd o fewn y fframwaith cyffredinol cenedlaethol sy'n caniatau i benderfyniadau polisi, er enghraifft yn y maes cynllunio, o ran caniatau nifer yr ail gartrefi ac yn y blaen, fod y penderfyniadau yn ymgreiddio lawr i lefel mwy cymunedol, achos, drwy wneud hynny, dwi'n meddwl bod rhywun yn ymateb i'r mater yn well. Mae yna wastad perig, pe bai polisi cenedlaethol yn unig yn cael ei weinyddu, fod y sawl sy'n ei weinyddu fo yn rhy bell oddi wrth yr issue maen nhw'n trio'i ddatrys, a dwi'n meddwl buasai hynny'n beth perig iawn i wneud. 

Wedi dweud hyn, yn benodol o gwmpas y maes cynllunio, drwy roi haen ychwanegol hyblyg o fynd i granularity mwy cymunedol, beth dŷn ni ddim eisiau chwaith, wrth gwrs, ydy bod y broses o benderfynu yn cymryd yn hirach neu'n fwy biwrocrataidd nag ydy o rŵan felly, achos mae'r drefn cynllunio bresennol yn creu trafferthion o ran y cyflymder o gael penderyfniadau o gwmpas datblygiadau ac yn y blaen. Diolch. 

If I could start just by saying that I think we need a national framework, but one size isn't going to fit every situation, because the communities, and the problems that they face, do vary on the issue of second homes. So, I think what I would recommend is that there should be sufficient flexibility within the national general framework that would allow policy decisions, for example in planning, in terms of allowing certain numbers of second homes and so on, that those decisions should permeate down to a more community level, because, in so doing, then I think that one does respond more effectively to the issue. There's always a risk that, if a national policy were to be administered in isolation, those who are implementing that policy are too far away from the issue that they're trying to deal with, and I think there are dangers implicit in that. 

Having said that, specifically on planning, by providing additional flexibility in going to a more community granularity, what we don't want is that the decision process takes longer or is more bureaucratic than it is now as a result of that, because the current planning regime causes problems in terms of the pace of decision making around developments and so on. Thank you. 

[Inaudible.]—need to have their finger on the pulse, don't they? They're the eyes and ears of what's going on. So, I would suggest that you get a feed through of what a local community needs, obviously, evidence based. But I think that's the best way forward, because if you look at Conwy county, it doesn't look like we have a problem. I think there's only just below 4 per cent of second homes in Conwy borough, but, in Penmachno, post COVID, we're reaching up to 50 per cent. So, it's obviously a very local need, and it needs to be highlighted from a local point of view. I feel we've got a tool bag that is empty at the moment. There's nothing in there we can use. We just need to fill that bag with tools that can help us. 

Karen, we just missed the very beginning of your answer. You were saying that the local community groups need to be informing what happens. Is that it, basically?

Yes, I think the foot soldiers on the ground, we're the ones that see the evolvement of everything very clearly. And I'm not sure if you heard the part about how it isn't a regional problem, it is more of a—. I mean, it is a regional problem, as in Conwy council doesn't seem to have the problem, but Penmachno does. 

So, I think there needs to be a link between the Government and local communities, where fact-based evidence can be passed through quite quickly so we can act quickly, and that our toolbag can be filled with lots of different ways of combating this. 

11:30

Diolch. Jest i ategu beth roedd Ffrancon yn ei ddweud, mewn ffordd: y fframwaith cenedlaethol, ond sicrhau bod yna lefel micro hefyd ar gael, o ran lleoliaeth efallai, gyda chyngorhau cymunedau sydd ar lawr gwlad. Mae'r ffigurau, mae'r data ar gael, maen nhw'n gwybod am eu hardaloedd. Ond hefyd, fel hwylusydd tai gwledig, mae yna rwydwaith ohonom ni ar gael ar draws Cymru, rhan yn daliedig gan grant o Lywodraeth Cymru, o Fro Morgannwg draw i Sir Fynwy, lan i'r gogledd orllewin, sir Benfro, Ceredigion a'r ffiniau. Felly, mae'n bwysig hefyd efallai i ddefnyddio gwybodaeth sydd ar gael gan hwyluswyr tai gwledig. 

Ond hefyd, mae sawl pwynt fanna bore yma wedi cael eu gwneud o ran y ddeiliadaeth gymysg yma sydd ar gael, o ran tai cymdeithasol a symud lan i dai'r farchnad agored. Mae yna ladder i gael, onid oes? Mae pobl yn ddelfrydol yn berchen ar eu tŷ eu hunain. Dwi'n edrych ymlaen at bennu fy morgais fy hunan, fel bod dim eisiau becso amboutu'r gost yna a chostau popeth arall yn mynd lan, ond rŷch chi'n gallu dychmygu fel mae teuluoedd ifanc yn teimlo ar hyn o bryd, rhwng talu rhent, trial edrych am dŷ, edrych am flaendal ar dŷ. Felly, mae eisiau i ni sicrhau ein bod ni'n galluogi'r fframwaith yma i wneud hynny i weithio, ac, eto, mae cymdeithasau tai yn rhan o'r ateb fanna.

Mae eisiau mwy o stoc. Rydyn ni'n gwybod hynny o ran y rhestrau cofrestru sydd ar gael, fel sydd wedi cael ei ddweud bore yma yn barod, ond hefyd, wedyn, fel mae pobl eisiau prynu tai. Ar hyn o bryd, yng Ngheredigion, rydych chi'n siarad am gyflogau ar gyfartaledd yn rhywbeth fel £22,000 a phris cyfartalog tŷ ar hyn o bryd yn £228,000. Mae'r wages multiplier fanna yn 10.5, o leiaf. Does dim un cwmni morgais yn mynd i roi benthyg 10.5, felly mae eisiau i ni sicrhau bod yr ymyraethau yma yn cael eu rhoi mewn—efallai treth cyngor a'r premiwm ychwanegol—a bod yr arian yna ar gael i sicrhau bod yna dai fforddiadwy yn cael eu hadeiladu i'r bobl yma sydd eisiau aros yn eu hardaloedd, yn enwedig, eto, o ran ardaloedd ble rydyn ni yn colli mas ar yr iaith Gymraeg. 

Bydd Mr Alun Davies, sydd wedi bod yn y brifysgol yn Aberystwyth, yn gwybod am ardal fel Ceredigion—mae mwy neu lai y sir i gyd yn wledig. Ond, wrth gwrs, mae yna wahaniaethau prisiau rhwng Aberystwyth a beth sydd yng nghanol, efallai, Tregaron, achos dyna ni: supply and demand, yntefe? Dyna'r economi sydd gyda ni.  

Thank you. Just to endorse what Ffrancon said: this national framework, but ensuring that there's a micro level in terms of localism as well, with community councils on the ground. The figures, the data are available, they know about their particular areas. But also, as a rural housing enabler, there's a network of us available across Wales, part paid by a grant from Welsh Government, from the Vale of Glamorgan to Monouthshire, to the north-west, Pembrokshire, Ceredigion and so on. So, it's important perhaps to use the information that's available through the rural housing enablers. 

But also, there are several points that have been made this morning in terms of these mixed tenancies, in terms of social housing and the open market. There is a ladder isn't there? Ideally, people would own their own homes. I'm looking forward to paying off my mortgage, so I don't have to worry about that cost, as costs continue to rise, but you have to imagine at the moment how young families feel, what with paying rent, trying to look for a house, looking for a deposit on a house. So, we need to ensure that we enable this framework to respond to that and that it works, and housing associations are part of the solution there too. 

We need more housing stock. We know that in terms of the waiting lists that exist. We've heard that this morning, but also because people want to buy homes. At the moment, in Ceredigion, you're talking about average wages being something like £22,000 and the average price of a house is £228,000. The wages multiplier there is 10.5, at least. No mortgage provider is going to lend at that rate, so we need to ensure that with these interventions—be that the premium on council tax—that funding then is allocated to ensuring that affordable homes are built for those people who want to remain in their areas, particularly in terms of areas where we're losing out on the Welsh language too. 

Mr Alun Davies, who's been to Aberystwyth University, is familiar with Ceredigion. Almost all of the county is a rural area. But there are differences of prices in terms of Aberystwyth and Tregaron. So, it's supply and demand, and that's the economy that we have. 

Thanks for the responses. Just coming on to this issue around policy, where it sits, we've heard from a few around the national framework and then the local flexibility, I suppose. I think Karen brought in this analogy around there's a toolbag that doesn't have the tools in, but we do know we have a lot of policies and strategies around housing. I've just scribbled down a few off the top of my head: local development plans, we have local housing strategies, we have economic growth strategies that feed into housing, we have regional regeneration programmes, we have empty homes strategies, we have innovative housing programmes, we have the 'Future Wales' strategy. I do wonder, and I'd be interested in your thoughts, when it comes to policy, whether we just keep asking for more policy and more strategies and more plans, and that that's actually distracting from actually delivering the houses that people need. Is there a risk that we're doing that, do you think? 

Mae gennym ni gyfle fan hyn, onid oes, drwy'r cynllun peilot yn Nwyfor, i weld beth fedrwn ni wneud drwy weithio efo'r awdurdod lleol, y parc cenedlaethol a'r cymdeithasau tai, a Llywodraeth Cymru, i ni drio gwahanol bethau, ac, efallai, mynd â'r polisïau sydd gennym ni'n barod—herio ychydig bach ar y rheini hefyd, gwneud yn siwr ein bod ni'n cael y mwyaf allan o beth sy'n bodoli'n barod. Fedrwn ni ddim aros yn hir i wahanol bolisïau ac ati gael eu creu—polisïau o'r newydd. Rhaid inni fynd efo beth sydd gennym ni rwan, ac adnabod beth ydy'r problemau a gweld beth sydd angen mewn lle. Ond mae yna rai pethau, fel polisi cynllunio cenedlaethol ac ati, sydd angen cael eu rhoi mewn lle ar gyfer hwyluso'r broblem yma sydd gyda ni, yr argyfwng tai gwledig. 

We have an opportunity here, through the Dwyfor pilot, to see what we can do by working with the local authority, the national park and the housing associations, and the Welsh Government, so that we can try different things, and then challenge the policies already in place too, ensuring that we make the most of what we have already. We can't wait for various policies to be drawn up. We need to go with what we have at the moment, and identify the problems and see what we need in place. But there are certain things, such as national planning policy, that do need to be put in place in order to deal with this problem, this rural housing crisis that we're facing. 

Buaswn i'n cytuno efo'r sylwadau yna. Jest i ymateb i'r Aelod yn benodol o ran nifer y strategaethau, dwi'n meddwl beth mae'r ymyraethau sydd ar y bwrdd rwan, o bosib, yn mynd i ganiatáu gobeithio ydy arafu'r cynnydd yn nifer yr ail dai sy'n ychwanegu at y broblem ddwys sy'n creu problem i'n cymunedau ni. So, dwi'n croesawu y rheini, ond fel roeddwn i'n dweud ar y cychwyn, mae angen iddyn nhw gydredeg, fel eu bod nhw ddim yn disjointed yn eu hunain a'u bod nhw'n plethu i mewn i strategaethau eraill. Ac mi wnes i gyfeirio at yr un economi a chynnal cymunedau’n benodol ar y cychwyn, ond, hwyrach, fel y mae Shan yn dweud, mae yna gyfle i wneud yn siŵr bod y strategaethau yma i gyd yn cydlynu, a'u bod nhw'n co-ordinated a'u bod nhw ddim yn disjointed. Achos weithiau, mae'r strategaethau yma'n cael eu llunio, heb fod y feirniadol wrth gwrs o'r sawl sydd yn eu hawduro nhw, ond maen nhw weithiau yn cael eu cynhyrchu mewn isolation i ymateb i beth sydd o'u blaenau nhw ar y pryd, ac weithiau dydy rhywun ddim yn cymryd trosolwg i weld sut mae'r strategaethau yma'n plethu mewn efo'i gilydd. Ac fel mae Shan yn dweud, mae'r peilot yma hwyrach yn rhoi'r cyfle i ni fod mewn hofrennydd a sbio ar draws hyn i gyd a gweld be fedrwn ni wneud efo'r rheini, efo'r ymyrraeth ychwanegol sy'n cael ei gynnig.

I would agree with those comments. Just to respond to the Member specifically in terms of the number of strategies and so on, I think what the interventions that are on the table, potentially, will allow, hopefully is the slowing down of the increase in second homes, which adds to this acute problem that creates a problem for our communities. So, I do welcome those interventions, but as I said at the beginning, they do need to align so that they are not disjointed and that they dovetail with our other strategies. I referred to the economic and community support strategy at the beginning, but, as Shan said, there is an opportunity to ensure that all of these strategies are co-ordinated, and that they're not disjointed. Because sometimes, these strategies are drawn up, without being critical of the process and those who authored them, but they're produced in isolation to respond to what is in front of them at the time, and sometimes one doesn't take an overview to see how these strategies align. And as Shan says, perhaps this pilot gives us the opportunity to get into that helicopter to take that overview to see what we can do with the additional intervention that is being proposed.

11:35

Thank you, Chair. It was just a quick question. It was mentioned earlier the lack of available housing for private rent, and I just wanted to see what your views would be in terms of any changes to the higher rate of the land transaction tax. Do you see that having an adverse, or maybe even a positive, impact on availability for private rent?

Could I just clarify? Is that either way, or do you have a particular suggestion as to which way? I know which way I'd rather it go.

From my perspective, following on from the previous point as well, it's about releasing as many options as we can. I am always a fan of looking at what tools we've already got in the toolbox rather than trying to reinvent things. But I do think that, in some cases, we have run out or we've overleveraged things.

One of those areas of overleveraging for me is what's happened with the land transaction tax—sorry, I called it stamp duty earlier; I do apologise—and the impact that had in terms of entrance of the private rented sector into the market and the influence to then end up going down the short-term let routes. Also, I don't think that that, certainly at the level that we're talking about, will affect—. It will affect investing choices, but it won't affect it if you're looking for a nice place elsewhere to live. It's less likely to affect your second home, but it's much more likely to affect whether you're going to invest in an area as a buy-to-let property. So, we need to encourage this. We need to look at mechanisms also about how we can encourage landlords either back to the private rental market—or why they bought purely for Airbnb in the first place.

From my perspective, or from our members' perspective, it's very much about looking at reducing that land transaction tax if they're looking at offering long-term rentals. And we can put stipulations around that. So, ultimately, if they end up being moved to the short-term market within five years or whatever it is, then that's an amount that needs to be paid. Our membership wouldn't have a problem with that. We are very much about leveraging things to encourage long-term sustainable and safe, secure lettings. This is why we need to separate the distinctions, because at the moment, we're being all caught up together in whatever changes you're making without those distinctions.

Mewn ffordd, rŷn ni'n cyffwrdd â threthi yn fanna. Wrth gwrs, beth sy'n digwydd yn aml hefyd, dim gymaint o ran y dreth o ran gwerthu, yw bod pobl yn newid tai o dŷ preswyl i rywbeth fel Airbnb neu i dai gwyliau, ac maen nhw wedyn yn cael ad-daliad treth, neu small business tax relief. Mae hynny wedi digwydd yn aml, wrth gwrs, a wedyn dydyn nhw ddim yn talu dim treth cyngor—mae'n cael ei newid mewn i fusnes, ac maen nhw'n gorfod dangos bod y tŷ yn cael ei osod am wyliau am hyn a hyn o ddiwrnodau. Rwy'n credu ei bod hi'n rhywbeth positif o ran argaledd tai ym mis Ebrill, pan mae'n symud o ran faint o ddiwrnodau mae'r tai yn gorfod bod ar gael i'w gosod, ac hefyd faint o amser mae tai yn cael rhywun i mewn ynddyn nhw. Efallai bydd hynny'n helpu'r sefyllfa, achos mae pob cyngor ar hyn o bryd, os yw'r tŷ yn newid i small business tax relief, yn gorfod ad-dalu y dreth maen nhw wedi chael ers saith mlynedd, sydd, wrth gwrs, yn rhoi mwy o bwysau eto ar goffrau cynghorau sir. Mae hynny hefyd yn cyffwrdd o ran trethi. 

In a way, we touched on taxation there. Of course, what happens often too, not simply in terms land transaction tax, is that people change homes from residential accommodation into something like an Airbnb or holiday accommodation, and then they get small business tax relief. That has often happened, and then they pay no council tax—it's registered as a business, and then they have to show that the home is let as a holiday home for so many days a year. I think it's positive in terms of availability of housing that in April they will increase the number of days that the homes have to be available for let, and how much time a house is occupied. That might help the situation, because I know that every council, if a house applies for small business rate relief, has to repay funds, which puts more pressure on council coffers. That also touches on taxation. 

11:40

Just with that, then, I've spoken to quite a few people who have properties that they rent on the private market, and they just say that it's not profitable for them any more in terms of the legislation coming from Welsh Government and also the UK Government. The money that's there for them now is just being swallowed up in terms of even the qualifications that they have to go through in order to be a landlord. Do you see that as contributing to this situation in rural Wales, in the sense of people who live in the community that have money? They want to invest it in property to rent out, but it's just not viable for them anymore, so they invest their money elsewhere, if that makes sense. 

Anecdotally, fuaswn i ddim yn gweld hynny'n digwydd yn yr ardal dwi'n gweithio ynddi, sef Ceredigion yn bennaf. Mae tai dal yn cael eu cadw fel tai preswyl gyda landlordiaid, heblaw ble maen nhw'n gweld ble maen nhw'n gallu gwerthu am well pris, a hefyd ble maen nhw'n troi, efallai, i mewn i Airbnb. Rwy'n gweld o ble rŷch chi'n dod bod pobl yn gweld yr heriau yma, ond wrth gwrs, fel cymdeithasau tai—byddai Shan a Ffrancon yn ategu hyn hefyd—mae gennym ni strwythur i fynd trwyddo i sicrhau bod y tai o safon er mwyn bod ein tenantiaid yn ddiogel. Rwy'n credu bod hynny'n hollbwysig, yn enwedig fel mae'r sefyllfa ar hyn o bryd o ran cost ynni, ac yn y blaen, yn mynd i fyny. Mae rhai o'r tai sy'n cael eu hadeiladu ar hyn o bryd lan i safon mor uchel o ran adeiladwaith, rydych chi'n edrych ar ryw fath o dai pasif passive house, yn enwedig gyda dim carbon hefyd. Mae'n tenantiaid yn talu rhent teg sydd yn eu galluogi nhw i fyw mewn cartref diogel, felly mae eisiau inni sicrhau bod landlordiaid hefyd—. Mae Douglas wed sôn sawl gwaith bod rhai yn mynd allan o'r farchnad achos eu bod nhw'n gweld, efallai, bod rhai o'r tai ddim yn addas i'w rhentu. Ond eto, efallai bod cefnogaeth ar gael trwy'r cynghorau sir a'r Llywodraeth er mwyn sicrhau bod hynny yn gallu digwydd. 

Anecdotally, I wouldn't see that happening in the area that I work within, Ceredigion primarily. Homes are still being retained as residential properties by landlords, other than when they see that they can sell for a better price, and where they perhaps do turn into Airbnb accommodation. I see where you're coming from that people see these challenges, but of course, as housing associations—Shan and Ffrancon would endorse this as well—we have a structure to go through to ensure that houses reach a particular standard so that our tenants are safe. I think that's vitally important, particularly with regard to the current situation with energy prices. Some of the homes being built at the moment are up to a particularly high standard in terms of construction. You're looking at these passive house standards, for example, and zero carbon. Tenants pay a fair rent that enables them to live in a safe home, and we need to ensure that landlords—. I know that Douglas has talked several times that some do go out of the market because they see that, perhaps, some of the homes aren't appropriate for rental. But again, perhaps there's support available through county councils and the Government to ensure that that can happen. 

Roeddwn i jest eisiau datgan beth, hwyrach, sydd ddim mor amlwg ond sydd yn amlwg i ni sydd yn gweithio yn y maes tai o ran pwysigrwydd y sector rhentu preifat—y private rental sector mae Douglas yn ei gynrychioli. Nid pawb yn ein cymdeithasau ni sy'n gymwys ar gyfer tai fforddiadwy, boed nhw yn rai cymdeithasol neu rai ar rent canolraddol, ac yn y blaen. Felly, maen nhw'n cael eu cau allan, a'r unig farchnad sydd ar agor iddyn nhw, oni bai eu bod nhw'n gallu prynu tai, ydy'r maes rhentu preifat.

Dylem ni fod yn wyliadwrus o unrhyw effaith anuniongyrchol neu uniongyrchol mae'r ymyriad yn ei chael ar y sector hwnnw, achos mae llif ein cymdeithas ni drwy fywyd, ar ryw bwynt mewn amser, yn mynd i daro'r sector tai preifat. Ac mi fuaswn i jest yn licio ailadrodd y cynnig roedd Douglas yn ei wneud bod rhywun yn cael rhyw elfen o hyblygrwydd—eto, yn dod nôl i lle mae modd rhentu yn y sector preifat o fewn cymuned sy'n dioddef o'r math o issues rydyn ni'n sôn amdanynt bore yma—a hwyrach yn cael ei drin yn wahanol am resymau ddigon teg, ond bod yr un rheolau wedyn ddim yn cael eu gorfodi mewn meysydd lle mae'r problemau yn llai dwys, a bod yna ddibyniaeth ar y sector tai preifat. Mae nifer o'n gwasanaethau cyhoeddus ni—digartrefedd, er enghraifft—yn ddibynnol iawn ar y sector breifat, rhentu tai preifat, ac wrth gwrs, mae'r diffyg cyflenwad yn y maes yna yn cael effaith wedyn ar y pwrs cyhoeddus. So, mae'n sector hollol bwysig. Mae rhai blynyddoedd ers i mi sbïo ar yr ystadegau, a hwyrach bydd Douglas yn gwybod beth ydyn nhw, ond mae'r rhai sy'n cael eu cartrefu yn y sector breifat tai yn llawer iawn uwch nag yn y maes cymdeithasol tai, er enghraifft.

I just wanted to say something that isn't perhaps apparent to you, but is very apparent to us working in the sector in terms of the importance of the private rental sector that Douglas represents. Not everyone in our communities qualify for affordable housing, be it social housing or median rental accommodation. So, they are closed out of that, and the only market available to them, unless they can purchase a home, is the private rental sector.

We should be mindful of any indirect or direct impact from an intervention on that sector, because the flow of our society through life, at some point, is going to hit the private rental sector. And I'd just like to reiterate the point that Douglas made that one should have an element of flexibility—again, returning to where it's possible to rent in the private sector in communities that are suffering as a result of the pressures that we're talking about this morning—and should be treated differently, but that the same rules then shouldn't be applied in areas where those problems aren't as intensive, and where there is a dependency on the private rental sector. Many of our public services—homelessness, for example—are highly reliant on the private rental sector, and of course, the shortage in that area also has an impact on the public purse, so it's a hugely important sector. It's some years since I looked at the statistics, and perhaps Douglas would know what they are, but the numbers housed in the private rental sector are far higher than is the case in social housing, for example.

11:45

Hi. I'm sorry if I'm duplicating; I don't have the translation on, so I'm not sure whether I am or not. But from a Penmachno point of view, the people that are buying the properties in Penmachno aren't buying them to rent out to local people. Their initial buying is to Airbnb, and that's our problem—the surge of the investors—and we don't know as a local community how to deal with that scenario. And obviously, anybody who's buying on the increased prices now, their rents do have to reflect their mortgage payments. So, yes, we're in a stuck situation, aren't we? But as the gentleman before came back to me saying about all these policies that are in place, then it obviously highlights that we need to have a link with the communities and the local councils so we're aware of these policies that are already in place that we can use.

The empty homes strategy is not working, because we've got 14 long-term empties in our village, and although the council have tried to get them changed, they're not able to, so that policy, within Penmachno, isn't working, at least. So, yes, just maybe we need a bridge, then, between these policy makers and local communities, so we're aware of them in the first place.

Wel, symud ymlaen o beth mae Karen newydd ei ddweud rŵan: mae cartrefi gwag, neu dai gwag, yn adnodd dylen ni fod yn gwneud llawer mwy amdano fo. Os oes yna 14 o rai gwag ym Mhenmachno, mae eisiau trio ffeindio allan beth ydy'r rhesymau pam eu bod nhw'n wag, beth fedrwn ni wneud wrth weithio efo'r gymuned leol er mwyn datrys y broblem yna. Mae yna botensial yn y fan yno i 14 o gartrefi i unigolion a theuluoedd, onid oes?

Moving on from what Karen has just said: empty homes, empty properties, are a resource that we should be making much more use of. If there are 14 empty homes in Penmachno, we need to try to find out what the reasons are why they're empty, what we can do working with the local community to solve that problem. There is huge potential there for 14 homes for individuals and families, isn't there?

I believe Denbighshire has an empty homes strategy that seems to be working, where they're working with the owners to find out what the issue is, and then offering them loans to bring them back up to date, so that they can go back out to let. So, maybe we could get some more information on that as a committee, as it's been raised today by Karen.

I've heard a lot today about long-term lets being changed to short-term lets, Airbnbs. So, do you think that having a registration or licensing scheme would help, then? Previously, we've heard evidence from a body that covers short-term lets as well, and they agree that would be a good way forward. Do you think that should be done nationally or by each local authority having a registration as well? So, your views on that.

And also, regarding occupancy restrictions on new-build properties, so that if we have new builds, whether they should be let—we used to say in an 'onion ring', so local people first, and then expanding out to the wider community in wider areas.

Okay. Thank you, Carolyn. Who would like to begin with an initial response? Shan?

Diolch. Rydyn ni'n ymwybodol o Rhentu Doeth Cymru, Rent Smart Wales, ac mae hwnnw wedi cael ei redeg yn genedlaethol. Mae o wedi gweithio'n dda, cyn belled â dwi'n y cwestiwn, beth bynnag, ond mae yna angen llawer mwy o adnoddau yn lleol wedyn ar gyfer sicrhau bod o'n gweithio'n iawn. Plismona, os liciwch chi, a sicrhau bod y tai i fyny i safonau. A hefyd mae eisiau gwneud yn siŵr bod y cynllun yn cael ei weithredu. A dwi'n ymwybodol wrth siarad efo penaethiaid tai mewn awdurdodau lleol bod yr adnoddau yna ddim ar gael ar hyn o bryd, wedyn mi fyddai angen y capasiti ychwanegol ar gyfer rhedeg cynllun o'r fath. Ond mi fuaswn i yn croesawu cynllun o'r fath.

Thank you. We are aware of Rent Smart Wales, of course, and that's been run at a national level, and it's worked well, as far as I'm concerned, at least. But we do need far more resources locally then in order to ensure that it does work properly. You need to police it, if you like, and ensure that the standards are being met in terms of the housing provided. And also you need to ensure that the scheme is being implemented properly. I am aware, having spoken to those in charge of housing in local authorities, that those resources aren't available at the moment, so we would need that additional capacity to run such a programme. But I would certainly welcome such a programme.

11:50

Yes, thank you, Chair. So, from our perspective—. Rent Smart Wales has been mentioned; I could do a whole evidence session on Rent Smart Wales, but we won't do that today. It's not my favourite thing, but ironically you will now hear me say that some sort of licensing or registration scheme for holiday lets is potentially a good thing—and I'm sure that will come back to bite me at some point—but it depends on how you do it. In my view, the way we are currently running Rent Smart Wales isn't particularly effective. It's creating a registration for the sake of it, and not doing very much with that register, whereas, actually, if you turn around and use it to properly police the scheme and make sure that people are doing things properly, then, actually, it can be useful.

The difference with the private rented sector versus the short-term lets sector at the moment is the standards within the properties are completely different that you have to achieve. So, therefore, your cost base of running these properties, a long-term rental versus a short-term rental property, is completely different. Also, your taxation base is completely different. So, you start ticking all these boxes and you start to see that this is the reason why so many people are shifting from one to another. And I'm not saying it's necessarily to avoid hitting certain standards, it's just so much cheaper to do it. So, yes, I would say it's something to be explored, be careful what you wish for, and it's got to be implemented correctly and effectively, and appropriately resourced, because otherwise it's just going to be another registration licensing scheme that costs people money and does absolutely nothing for the local communities, which is exactly what we're trying to achieve here.

Just back to the empty homes strategy, we did have the local council come in and we did have a meeting held. The flaw in that area was they were just looking to help council bands A to C, and all 14 houses weren't in council band A to C. So, that's something that maybe needs looking at again as well: to increase the council band.

Thank you. Denbighshire have brought hundreds of houses back into the rental market with their strategy, so it would be good to look at that. And, Karen, you mentioned having homes to buy locally for your three sons, and so you believe that planning policy perhaps needs looking at. I know that, at the moment, it is difficult to develop in rural areas, and if somebody has a barn, like you mentioned, or something to build, to convert, then that would have to be tied to the main property or there'd be a lifetime restriction on it, so that it could not be sold openly afterwards. So, that's something that you think—. Is that what you're talking about?

Absolutely. That is the support of the local committee. We're all happy to have section 106s on these kinds of new builds or restoration projects. We're all happy because we all want to keep what stock we have left in our community. So, everybody's happy to do it.

Okay. You're happy, Carolyn, okay. Well, thank you, all, very much for coming along to give evidence to the committee today. You will be sent a transcript to check for factual accuracy in the usual way. Diolch yn fawr.

Diolch yn fawr.

Thank you very much.

5. Papurau i'w nodi
5. Papers to note

Okay. Item 5, then, before the committee today is papers to note. We have paper 10, which is a letter from the Minister for Climate Change in relation to the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016. Paper 11 is a letter from the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee to the Minister for Climate Change in relation to statutory instruments made under the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016. We have paper 12, a letter from the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution in relation to the Elections Bill legislative consent memorandum. Paper 13 is a letter from the Children, Young People and Education Committee to all committee Chairs in relation to engagement with children and young people. Paper 14 is a letter from the Welsh Cladiators in relation to fire safety. Paper 15 is a letter from Travelling Ahead in relation to Gypsy and Traveller sites. And, finally, paper 16 is a letter from the Chief Executive and Clerk of the Senedd to the Chair of the Public Accounts and Public Administration Committee in relation to the use of the acronym BAME by the Senedd Commission. Are Members content to note those papers? Sam.

11:55

Thanks, Chair. Just a brief one. I'm happy to note the papers as you suggest, but on paper 14, the letter from the Welsh Cladiators, they do make a specific request to meet with the committee and I was just wondering whether we'll be able to accommodate that. Is there a plan to accommodate that meeting?

Yes. We could discuss that further in our private meeting, Sam, but I think that is something that the committee would want to consider, given the work that we've already done and the fact that there is quite a lot of progress yet to be made in terms of addressing the issue. So, I'm happy to do that.

No. In that case, let me bring Joel in next, because I know that Joel indicated as well.

We've had representations regarding accommodation for Gypsy, Roma and Travellers as well as an issue, so could we discuss that, maybe, sometime?

Yes, I think we can discuss that in private, but again, I think that is an issue that the committee would want to consider in terms of work that we might do. So, yes, happy to do that, Carolyn. Mabon.

Os caf i ategu'r ddau bwynt sydd wedi cael eu gwneud. Mae'r Welsh Cladiators ac mae yna ambell i lythyr wedi dod i mewn, o gof, ar y mater yma, sydd yn amlwg yn fater o bwys ac yn fater sydd yn pwyso ar yr unigolion hynny ar fyrder. Meddwl oeddwn i beth ydy'r drefn. Dwi'n gwybod y byddwn ni'n ei drafod e mewn munud, ond a ydyn ni'n medru ystyried y syniad o ryw fath o task and finish group neu rywbeth yn benodol i edrych ar y mater yma, gan gymryd bod yna lot o waith arall yn mynd ymlaen, ond, rhyw sesiynau penodol ar y mater, os gwelwch yn dda?

If I may endorse both points that have been made. There's the Welsh Cladiators and there have been a few letters, if I remember rightly, on this issue, which is clearly a very important issue and an issue that is urgent certainly for those individuals. I was wondering what the system is. I know that we'll discuss it in a few moments, but can we consider perhaps some sort of task and finish group to specifically look at this issue, accepting that there's a lot of other work ongoing, but could we have specific sessions on this particular issue, please?

Yes. We will discuss this further in private when we've got more opportunity to do so, Mabon, but I take your point that it is a pressing issue that does need work, and this committee is in a position, given its remit, to contribute to that. So, yes, we'll return to that shortly, Mabon.

6. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(ix) i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod
6. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting

Cynnig:

bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(ix).

Motion:

that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Okay. Item 6, then, is a motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting. Is committee content to do that? Yes, okay. Thank you very much. We will move to private session.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 11:57.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 11:57.