LABOUR’S Angela Rayner was grilled by Plaid Cymru’s leader over the social and council housing crisis in Wales on last night’s BBC Question Time special.
Angela Rayner, the shadow secretary of state for education, struggled to defend Labour when confronted by Tory Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick and Adam Price, Plaid Cymru’s leader, over the Labour Party’s failure in providing affordable and viable housing in Wales. Ms Rayner had criticised the Conservative Government for not building enough social housing while in power. But Mr Jenrick hit back asking Ms Rayner: “How many council houses did you build in Wales where you’re in government?
“You built 57 council houses in Wales last year. The year before that you built zero, the year before that you built zero, the year before that also built zero.”
Mr Price argued that the opposition party’s failure in Wales may well represent a failure in their Government that would spread nationwide should the party win a general election.
Mr Price said: “It certainly is true that we’re not building enough social housing, council housing for rent.
“I mean, the average for the last 20 years for the Labour Government is 15 a year, it’s absolutely appalling.
“So, we’ve got to do something about that.”
Emma Barnett, Question Time’s host, interrupted here and pressed Mr Price for clarity, and asked: “You’re talking about Labour in Wales there?”
He replied: “Yes, Absolutely. I mean, 15 a year it’s ridiculous.
“20,000 is what we need and we need to continue at that rate over the course of the next 15 years. It’s absolutely right.”
Mr Price was referring to the social housing crisis that has taken form in Wales.
In May, work on council houses in several welsh counties began construction for the first time in decades, in response to a severe housing shortage.
More than 8,000 council homes were completed in 1976.
This is compared to an average of 15 since 2000.
According to the housing charity, Shelter, 66,386 households were on waiting lists in Wales, as corresponding to 2018 figures.
Mr Price continued: “There’s this issue about affordable homes and help to buy – the average price of many of these, even in Wales by the way, is £150,000, £250,000.
“These are not affordable by any kind of stretch of the imagination.
“We’re putting the resources in the wrong area, we need to do something with social housing.
“In the meantime, we’ve got to do something about generation rent – those who are renting in the private sector.
“We’ve got to bring back rent control, we’ve got to have an end to no fault evictions, we’ve got to have open ended tenancies – those are all things on the Labour manifesto in the Westminster election, but you could do them now…”
Ms Rayner said: “Well, lets get that in Westminster and then we can get it across… the funding that’s in this is to help.”
Despite Ms Rayner’s explanation that a Labour Government would enable the party to pledge more, Mr Price said: “The point is this Angela, you’re in power, you’re in Government in Wales now, you could do all of those things now.”
Ms Rayner said: “It’s austerity getting passed on by the Tory Government.”
Mr Price wouldn’t accept her reason, however, and said: “It’s nothing to do with austerity, these are laws you can pass where you are in power now.
“But, you’re not doing it.”
Mr Price has been a fervent critic of Labour’s spending pledge, with his drawing attention to the party’s plannned spend £100bn on Scotland, but being apparently “silent” on Wales.