Over 1100 homes across Wales have been empty for 10 years or more research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed. These homes are part of the over 22,000 empty homes in Wales.
Only three Local Authorities in Wales have made use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO), powers used by Local Authorities to take over properties that have been empty for at least two years. This is despite the fact that some local families have spent Christmas without a home.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds commented:
“Empty homes are a blight on their communities. At a time when the homelessness crisis is worsening and more and more people are sleeping out in the cold on our streets, it is a scandal that so many homes remain empty.
“The current system clearly isn’t working. Wales urgently needs a national strategy from the Welsh Government to end this empty homes crisis. Councils must be given the powers they need to bring empty homes back into use. Councils, Welsh Government and the UK Government must address the issue of empty homes together as part of a wider package to tackle homelessness and the housing crisis.
“Access to safe and affordable housing is essential to create opportunity for people across Wales. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have a proud record of creating affordable housing and we will continue to fight until everyone in Wales has access to the quality housing they need.”
Cllr Joe Carter, Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor for Pentwyn said:
“With over 6000 homes unoccupied for over two years and 1100 for at least ten years, these figures are a clear illustration that local authorities across Wales must do more to bring empty homes back into use.
“Local authorities should seek to buy empty properties and utilise compulsory purchase when necessary. Local authorities already have a duty to work with the private sector to rehouse residents and local authorities need to do more to persuade the owners of empty homes to rent them out to those that desperately need them.
“Wales urgently requires more affordable housing. Building more housing is an essential part of the solution, but bringing empty homes back into use can also play a key role in increasing the affordable housing supply.”
Donna Lalek has been announced as the Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate for the Alyn and Deeside by-election that follows the tragic death of Carl Sargeant.
Donna is a Community Councillor, activist and bank worker from Broughton and a former teacher and qualified barrister. Donna is a founding member of charitable and activist group Everyone Matters and is committed to creating positive change for local communities. As an Assembly Member Donna would be a hardworking and effective voice for Alyn and Deeside.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Candidate Donna Lalek said:
“It is an honour to be selected as the Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate and I look forward to making the positive case for the Welsh Liberal Democrats to the people of Alyn and Deeside. Our area is blessed with fantastic people and vibrant businesses and I’m passionate about giving them the investment, revitalised high streets, and career opportunities they deserve. I’m excited to fight for the chance to represent this wonderful community in the Assembly.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds commented:
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats have an ambitious vision for Wales and Alyn and Deeside and Donna Lalek is a fantastic choice to articulate this vision.
Donna and the Welsh Lib Dems will fight for good local jobs and to support businesses like Airbus by keeping the UK in the Single Market and campaigning for an ambitious North Wales Growth Deal. Our priority is opportunity for everyone across Alyn and Deeside which is why Donna and the Welsh Lib Dems will be campaigning tirelessly for local homes at affordable prices and improving mental healthcare."
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have welcomed the third-year evaluation report from Ipsos Mori and WISERD on the Pupil Development Grant highlighting the success of the grant in reducing the attainment gap.
The report found that PDG funding is invaluable to schools and has resulted in a number of positive and promising effects over time. This includes focusing schools’ attention on tackling disadvantage across the school and improving the tracking of learners who qualify for free school meals.
In opposition in the last Assembly, the Welsh Liberal Democrats secured the establishment of the grant which has led to over £200m investment. Since then, in government, Kirsty Williams has doubled the support for nursery and reception children which will increase from £300 per pupil to £600.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:
“The Pupil Development Grant is one of my party’s proudest achievements. This report shows the PDG is reducing the attainment gap, increasing the willingness of learners to participate in classroom activities and improving pupil confidence, wellbeing and self-esteem.
"Liberal Democrats know that investing in our schools and giving our children the best possible start in life and every opportunity to succeed is one of the best ways of breaking the link between poverty and attainment, and that belief will always remain at the core of our approach to tackling poverty and inequality in Wales.
“This report is yet more evidence of the transformational impact Kirsty Williams and the Welsh Liberal Democrats are having on Welsh education and the life chances of every child. We will always prioritise the most disadvantaged pupils and will continue to fight to secure opportunity for every child in Wales.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have welcomed a report published today that calls for a complete overhaul of sex and relationships education in Wales.
The Sex and Relationships Education Expert Panel was established in March 2017 by Welsh Liberal Democrat Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams, to help inform the development of high quality SRE in the new curriculum in Wales.
Findings concluded that SRE in Wales has too strong a focus on biology, with not enough attention given to rights, gender equality, emotions and relationships. There is a lack of focus on minority gender and sexual identities and relationships, and lack of awareness and education on violence against girls and women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.
The panel have recommended that SRE be made statutory as part of education reforms. The report sets out how this guidance should be underpinned by core principles and themes that ensure a needs-led, inclusive and holistic, rights and equity-based SRE for all.
The panel have also recommended a name change to Sexuality and Relationships Education, drawing on the World Health Organisation’s definition of ‘sexuality’, with an emphasis on rights, health, and equality.
Welsh Liberal Democrat equalities campaigner Cadan ap Tomos said:
“I know from my own experience, and from listening to young people right across Wales, that the provision of sex and relationships education isn’t fit for the 21st Century.
“This report is an excellent blueprint on the changes we desperately need to make on how SRE is delivered in our schools, and Kirsty Williams deserves a lot of credit for recognising more needs to be done and for establishing this expert panel.
“The Welsh Government needs to accept the recommendations in this report so that all young people are armed with the knowledge they need to practice safe sex and take part in healthy, respectful relationships.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats welcome the progress made by the UK Government and EU on the Irish border, EU citizen’s rights and divorce bill. However, crucial talks over the UK’s relationship with the EU must still take place and time is running out.
The agreement avoids a hard border with Ireland that would have threatened the Good Friday Agreement, reduces the risk of a no deal Brexit, protects the rights of EU citizens in the UK, settles the UK’s bill with the EU and paves the way for talks to progress to the UK’s future relationship with the EU.
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds commented:
“Whilst this Brexit deal is welcome progress that makes a disastrous no deal Brexit less likely, there is no room for complacency. The 2nd stage of negotiations must be more productive, ambitious and less chaotic than the 1st stage that should have finished months ago. Instead we’re left with limited time to agree the entirety of the UK’s relationship with the EU after Brexit without the benefit of any impact papers.”
“It is vital that the UK government now pursues as close a relationship as possible with the EU after Brexit. Full alignment with elements of the single market and customs union is a step in the right direction but not enough. The Government must pursue full and continued membership of the Single Market and Customs Union to minimise the damage to the Welsh economy.”
“Whatever Brexit deal Theresa May gets after the 2nd stage of negotiations, it will be a worse deal for Wales and for Britain than our current relationship. The British people must be given a vote on the final Brexit deal and the opportunity to choose an exit from Brexit.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams, will officially launch Wales’ new science and technology network today at Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhondda.
The network for excellence will target the improvement of teachers' skills in science and technology and improve pupils' experience of the subjects while they are at school.
More than £4 million is being invested through the network which will play a key role in the Welsh Government’s national mission to raise standards in schools through education reform.
The network involves schools, colleges, universities and the four regional education consortia working together to improve the teaching and learning of science and technology in Wales.
The new network will:
- draw together cutting-edge knowledge for teaching practice in science and technology for 3 to 18 year olds.
- co-ordinate the development and delivery of recognised science and technology professional development for teachers, based on global and local evidence of what works.
- improve pupils' experiences of science and technology in schools across Wales.
- enable schools to work together to develop courses, teaching resources and class-based research.
Kirsty Williams said:
“The new science and technology network will play a crucial role in our national mission to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and confidence.
“The PISA results were clear that we must improve the teaching of science in our schools. With new qualifications and the shift away from Science BTEC, we are confident that the new network will play a key role in driving up standards in the classroom.
“This new network will bring together higher education, colleges, regional education consortia and lead schools, capturing the best knowledge, expertise and experience for the benefit of our young people.”
75 years on from the publication of the landmark Beveridge Report, the five “giant evils” of want, squalor, disease, ignorance and idleness remain widespread despite the report’s immense impact. Wales needs a new Beveridge Report for the 21st Century to finish the job.
The Beveridge Report created the NHS and the modern welfare state, transforming education, housing and social security. The report’s recommendations were accepted by every party and led to substantially increased life expectancy, full employment and dramatically lower poverty across Britain.
However, across Wales and Britain the five giant evils highlighted by Beveridge remain substantial issues. Child poverty is increasing, health inequalities are growing, in-work poverty is now greater than out-of-work poverty and more and more households are relying on foodbanks, including nurses.
Commenting, Welsh Lib Dem Leader Jane Dodds said;
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats are rightly proud of our history and the role the great Liberal William Beveridge played in creating the modern welfare state. But we are not complacent, Beveridge’s work is far from finished and we will continue to fight for Wales to get the healthcare, housing, education and economy it needs.”
"Beveridge’s reforms worked because they were embraced and implemented by every party. Wales needs a new, cross-party and cross-society Beveridge Commission for the 21st century. Together we can come up with the bold solutions needed to tackle poverty in this century the way Beveridge did last century.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds has condemned President Trump's retweeting of Britain First and called for his state visit to be cancelled.
"There is no place in society for the hatred, division and fear shown by Britain First everyday. To see the supposed leader of the free world give oxygen to such poisonous and divisive views is sickening."
"The murder of Jo Cox left no doubt that there are very real and devastating consequences to the rhetoric espoused by Britain First. Giving the go ahead to a state visit to a President who has sought to amplify these views would fatally undermine the Government's credibility in standing up to bigotry at home and abroad. President Trump has degraded his own office, and we should not give him the opportunity to do the same to Wales and the UK. The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe in a Wales that is open, tolerant and united. President Trump has no place in that sort of society."
Tuesday’s Social Mobility in Great Britain: fifth state of the nation report by the Social Mobility Commission highlights the extent of inequality and the urgent need for greater action by the UK and Welsh Governments to improve social mobility and secure opportunity for Wales.
The report found that an individual’s life chances remain largely determined by the place of their birth, with a striking geographical divide between South East England and the rest of the UK.
Within Wales substantial differences also exist, both between local authorities and between the most and least disadvantaged individuals within each local authority. The report also showed that whilst cities do provide access to better paid jobs, they’re not a silver bullet for social mobility, as some of the worst performing areas in Wales are urban and many of the best performing areas are rural.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds commented:
“This report is a stark reminder of the shocking state of social mobility in the UK, with the rest of the country being left behind once again by South East England. The report rightly calls for the UK Government to direct a greater proportion of spending to the areas that need it most and nowhere in the UK needs it more than Wales.”
“Kirsty Williams is doing fantastic work within the Welsh Government to improve social mobility, making closing the attainment gap part of Wales’ national mission to improve education and increasing the Pupil Development Grant to make this a reality. However, Kirsty cannot solve social mobility on her own, Wales needs a cross-government and cross-society effort to improve social mobility.”
“The same old ideas for improving social mobility will not work, we need bold new solutions. We need a Beveridge Report for the 21st Century to eliminate the 5 evils Beveridge identified 75 years ago and we need to trial groundbreaking policies like Universal Basic Income and Negative Income Tax. Only through ideas like these will we secure opportunity for Wales.”
The proposed Mid Wales and North Wales growth deals are a once in a generation chance to develop our rural economies and prepare them for the next 30 years.
Rural economies across Mid and North Wales face immense challenges, none more so than Brexit. The Brexit deal will have severe implications for the financial support for farmers, the ability of rural communities to attract tourism and access to markets for food and drink exports.
However, the Mid Wales and North Wales growth deals are opportunities to utilise the naturual resources and natural beauty across the regions, deliver growth and investment for every area of Wales, give rural communities the digital infrastructure they need and develop the skills base of both regions.
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds said:
“Following the Cardiff and Swansea city deals, it is only right that Mid and North Wales are set to get their own growth deals. If these deals are really going to make a difference to rural economies they need to be more than just warm words and vanity projects. They must be ambitious and tailored to the unique needs of Mid and North Wales if they’re to have the transformational benefits our rural economies deserve. “
“Mid and North Wales are blessed with incredible natural resources, universities at the forefront of research and innovation and a skilled and committed workforce. Growth deals must utilise these resources to make the regions powerhouses of the green economy, foster economic growth, fight poverty and give communities the digital and transport infrastructure they need to compete in the global economy.”
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats have always proudly stood up for rural communities and we’ll fight for ambitious growth deals that give Mid and North Wales the opportunities they deserve.”