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There has been significant coverage, across Wales, the UK, and beyond of the difficulties people, may encounter in accessing affordable, quality housing, (whether to buy or rent). Often, those difficulties are connected to issues in relation to second homes. This also raises questions about the sustainability of our community services and of empty homes that add nothing at all to the vibrancy of our communities. Second homes are a contributory and intertwined factor implicit in the affordability challenge, but they cannot be characterised effectively as the whole of the ‘problem’.
We are proposing a package of interventions to support Welsh-speaking communities with high densities of second homes by bringing together economic, housing, community development and language planning interventions to ensure the long-term sustainability of these communities, where the Welsh language can continue to thrive. A central theme of the plan is to support communities to ascertain their own ideas and develop according to their needs, working alongside relevant stakeholders, that already play an important role in economic, housing and community development as well as our key partners that support the use of the language in our communities.
The Welsh Language Communities Housing Plan will include the following interventions:
- Social enterprises and community led co-operative housing
- Co-operative and community led housing
- Estate agents and Stakeholder steering group
- Informative Campaign: ‘A Fair Chance’
- Commission for Welsh-Speaking Communities
- Economy, Housing and Welsh Language Roundtable
- Cultural Ambassadors
- Welsh place names
Gathering evidence and engaging with children and young people
Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015
The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 requires public bodies across Wales named in the act to work towards 7 wellbeing goals, two of which are ‘A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language’ and ‘Cohesive communities’. The Welsh Government has a duty to promote and facilitate the use of Welsh and work towards the wellbeing goals.
Programme for government
This Welsh language communities housing plan is one of the Welsh Government’s key priorities as set out in our Programme for government 2021 to 2026. Our Programme for government includes a number of commitments in regards to homes, communities and the Welsh Language.
The Cymraeg 2050 strategy also provides a vision for a Wales where the language is thrives across the whole of Wales. One of the strategy’s key aims is to support the socio-economic infrastructure of Welsh-speaking communities so that they can continue to be communities where the language is the main language and used in every aspect of daily life.
This area of work is complex, we are proposing an approach that seeks to address core issues Welsh-speaking communities are facing. There are a range of views on how the Welsh Government should respond and therefore we held a consultation on this proposal between the 23 November 2021 and 22 February 2022. We encouraged everyone in the communities affected and elsewhere in Wales to respond to the consultation and help shape the Welsh language communities housing plan. We received a total of 776 responses to this consultation.
Dr Simon Brooks reported in the Second Homes report that ‘since the 2008 financial crisis, Welsh-speaking communities like a number of other fragile communities in Britain have faced testing socio-economic changes.
With the vote in 2016 to leave the European Union, it became clear that rural areas where the second homes problem is most acute would undergo a socio-economic and societal restructuring on a very wide level. As well as losing regional European support, we can predict the weakening of the agricultural economy, further austerity affecting the public sector, and indeed a host of economic threats. Many of these will impact on sectors where a very high percentage of Welsh speakers are employed.
It is likely that economic restructuring will present challenges to community sustainability in these areas, and therefore to the Welsh language. The likelihood is that structural problems, such as young Welsh-speakers leaving rural communities due to a lack of economic opportunities, will deepen.
It is considered that by implementing the Welsh language communities housing plan will support people that wish to stay in their local communities to do so. This could indirectly positively support local businesses with the likelihood that local people would use those businesses all year round.
These actions could also further positively support local service provision by helping to maintain their consistent use, by enabling local people to remain in or return to their localities. This is in contrast to occupation of second homes and holiday lets for only part of the year, where local services may consequently only be used by occupiers during those periods.
Evidence and case study
Conwy childcare setting is an excellent example of a good practice where children’s and family’s needs were at the centre of developing a community lead social enterprise.
Meithrinfa Gymraeg Derwen Ded (derwendeg.cymru)
Established in 2016 with a turnover of £248,875.
15 members of staff.
Main aim of the nursery is to provide Welsh language childcare, which will help every child to have a bilingual future. The nursery fully supports all non-Welsh speaking families and welcome every child into the nursery.
The nursery is being ran by a team of caring Welsh speaking individuals who create a comfortable and safe setting for children to learn and play through Welsh. They offer a welcome atmosphere for all families who walk through the door, giving parents a feeling of security and trust as they leave their children in the care.
Analysing the evidence and assessing the impact
This Welsh language communities housing plan will positively impact young people within our Welsh communities as these interventions will allow people of all age to take action to manage and mitigate the effects of second homes and holiday accommodations on the Welsh language and supporting communities to take localised interventions to manage the lack of homes available to local people.
As these will positively support the use of the Welsh language as a living community language and by supporting and enabling local people especially young people and children to remain in or return to their localities, these interventions will allow young people within our communities to use the Welsh language, live in our Welsh-speaking communities and when our young people are in a position to buy or rent a home, they may be able to continue to live within the local community.
How does your proposal enhance or challenge children’s rights, as stipulated by the UNCRC articles and its Optional Protocols? Please refer to the articles to see which ones apply to your own policy.
|UNCRC Articles or Optional Protocol
|Article 2 (non-discrimination) The Convention applies to every child without discrimination, whatever their ethnicity, sex, religion, language, abilities or any other status, whatever they think or say, whatever their family background.
|The Welsh Language Communities Housing Plan is made up of interventions to support communities to use the Welsh language and to live in their communities. The interventions positively promote the use of children's own language if Welsh, promotes people's heritage, identity and ethnicity as Welsh through its promotion of the Welsh language.
|Article 12 (respect for the views of the child) Every child has the right to express their views, feelings and wishes in all matters affecting them, and to have their views considered and taken seriously. This right applies at all times, for example during immigration proceedings, housing decisions or the child’s day-to-day home life.
|When working with communities, hold outreach sessions etc. we will respect every person’s views, which includes children’s views. We will be engaging specifically with young people during the Urdd Eisteddfod and the Royal Agricultural Show. We will also, be arranging outreach sessions with communities and asking community groups, schools and clubs to attend or be represented at the meetings.
|Article 17 (access to information from the media) Every child has the right to reliable information from a variety of sources, and governments should encourage the media to provide information that children can understand. Governments must help protect children from materials that could harm them.
When documents/call for evidence etc. are made, communication methods will be considered to ensure we communicate most effectively with every community. We will target youth groups such as:
|Article 13 (freedom of expression) Every child must be free to express their thoughts and opinions and to access all kinds of information, as long as it is within the laws.
Every person within our communities will be able to express their thoughts and opinions. They will be able to do that in events such as public engagement and through the call of evidence such as written or verbal evidence. Consideration will be given to any barriers children and others in the community face in participating, and mitigations put in place to ensure, as far as possible these are overcome, for example:
Communicating with children and young people
Young people will have an equal chance to contribute and action these intervention within their communities. We will ensure that young people will be able to do this by:
- specifically targeting young people such as the Young Farmers Clubs, the Urdd and local schools
- when working with communities we will require documents, case studies etc. to be written in clear Welsh and English so young people can understand
- when research is carried out, we will specify that consideration or/and soughing young people’s views is necessary
- we will be making a ‘call for evidence’ as part of the Welsh Communities Commission, therefore we will ensure that young people will also be able to provide evidence to the Commission
- as part of this work we will establish a Network of Cultural Ambassadors, we will take every necessary steps to ensure that young people will be able to take part in the Cultural Ambassadors scheme within their communities. As part of this, there is a potential to have ‘Young Cultural Ambassadors’. We will discuss this further with local schools and Education colleagues
Monitoring and review
The delivery of the Welsh Language Communities Housing Plan will be monitored by Welsh Government and an independent evaluation will be commissioned.