Stage 3 Debate on The Regulation of Registered Social Landlords (Wales) Bill
Group 1: Tenant participation (Amendments 1, 1A, 3, 4)
Gareth Bennett AM
Party: United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)
We, in UKIP, were happy to support the general principles of this Bill and, as I said in the earlier debate here, we did so because we need to protect the provision of affordable housing in Wales. This Bill will have the effect of reversing the reclassification of housing associations as public bodies, with the resulting impact that that would have on public sector borrowing. So, it’s clearly in the public interest, and for that reason the Bill has cross-party support.
That said, we are concerned that the rights of housing association tenants are protected. We believe that the amendments tabled by the Conservatives today improve the Bill. They provide an opportunity for tenants to engage and to have their voices heard when major changes are planned to their registered social landlord. In light of our recent debates here in this Chamber relating to freeholder rights and leasehold reforms, both of which UKIP supported, we see these amendments as logical and as a constructive attempt to enhance this legislation. For that reason, UKIP will be supporting all of the Conservatives’ amendments today.
In terms of the Government amendment—amendment 1—we feel that it’s somewhat restrictive, and that it could deny tenants a voice in the event that their housing association were to change hands. I know that, in Committee Stage, the Minister said that:
‘in these situations, appropriate communication with the tenants features as part of the regulatory guidance, and it will be subject to regulatory oversight.’
We take her point on board, but on balance we would rather the rights of tenants in those circumstances were put into the Bill rather than into guidance. So, we won’t be supporting the Government’s amendment 1 today. Diolch yn fawr.