Jane Hutt, Minister for Social Justice
I am pleased to update Members on the provision of Gypsy and Traveller sites and the allocation of the Welsh Government Capital Grant to support this work. The purpose of this Written Statement is to set out our progress to date and our plan.
The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 requires every Local Authority in Wales to prepare a Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) and report on the need for additional Gypsy and Traveller pitches in their area, both permanent residential and temporary transit.
I am aware that, while there was good progress when the Act was first introduced, this has not been sustained more recently in every part of Wales. However, having introduced legislation and provided significant funding to address the need, I am concerned that in some cases plans have stalled for several years and sufficient progress has not been made to address the site needs of the community.
I understand proposals for new sites, and even for improvements, are often complex and require community engagement and sometimes attract challenges to decisions. This means plans are rarely brought to fruition swiftly and a proposal may have been in development for some time before a grant application is made.
However, despite those challenges I expect all Local Authorities in Wales to ensure sufficient site and pitches are provided to meet the identified needs of Gypsy communities across Wales. I expect accurate assessment of needs and clear action on how they will address those needs to meet the gap which exists. The current provision for permanent and transit sites falls far short of requirements and that cannot continue.
We are reviewing the robustness of assessments across Wales to meet the site needs across Wales for Gypsy and Traveller communities. Officials are working with Local Authorities and Gypsy and Traveller communities to identify the extent of the requirements and understand the barriers which still exist to prevent progress.
Once this has been completed, I will be undertaking bilaterals with Local Authorities to review their GTAAs and understand their progress. I will explore with them the steps required to overcome any barriers which remain, and to seek affirmation of their commitment to ensuring sufficient provision of permanent and transit sites across Wales to meet the needs of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities in line with the Anti Racist Wales Action Plan. I intend to use this opportunity to remind them about the Welsh Government grant as an important tool for progressing work to improve sites and create new ones.