New Welsh Labour leader says surgeries ‘dominated’ by housing

Presumptive First Minister stresses a need to get housing to the top of the cabinet table.

Mark Drakeford

New leader of the Welsh Labour Party and presumptive First Minister Mark Drakeford has spoken of his Cardiff West constituency surgeries “dominated” by housing.

Stressing a need to get housing to the top of the cabinet table, Drakeford said the impact of austerity on housing had been huge.

He made specific reference to child poverty as “one of the outstanding issues of our time”, with some 50,000 more children expected to be in poverty by the end of the present Assembly term than when it started – because of benefit freezes and Universal Credit.

“The Welsh Government doesn’t have the levers which create child poverty in that way – that is the benefit system and micro-economic levers – but we do have lots of things we can do to knock the roughest edges off that experience,” said Drakeford.

“Children have only one chance to be a child – they cannot wait for some distant economic future – and we have to do more to try and use the levers we have to try and make that childhood as happy and productive as we can help to make it.”

Drakeford was confirmed today (6th Dec) as winner of the Welsh Labour leadership with 53.9% of the vote after the contest went to a second round.

Now expected to replace Carwyn Jones as First Minister when Jones stands down next week, Drakeford pledged to make Wales “a beacon of hope in a darkening world (with) a future which works for the many in our society and not simply for a privileged few”.

Aaron Hill, Public Affairs Manager at Community Housing Cymru, said: “We look forward to working closely with Mark Drakeford as the new leader of Welsh Labour, and we welcome the strong emphasis he has placed on housing throughout his campaign and his intention to appoint a Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for Housing.

“The ongoing Review of Affordable Housing in Wales is an opportunity to build a policy environment which enables housing associations to double the number of homes we are currently building.

“This will be a vital piece of work for the next First Minister to consider and we hope he will continue to prioritise housing, and work with us to establish good housing as a basic right for all.”

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