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Wales' biggest building society to release annual results

The figures for 2013 are expected to be good due to an increase in first time buyers. Credit: PA

The Principality, Wales' biggest building society, will announce its annual results for 2013 later this morning.

The figures are expected to be a good indicator for the Welsh economy, underlying a recovery in the housing market.

It's thought last year's positive figures are a result of more first time buyers getting on to the property ladder in Wales.

House building in Wales slowed down in 2013

It is hoped the Welsh Government's 'help to buy' scheme will boost the market. Credit: PA

House building in Wales slowed down in the last three months of 2013, according to the latest economic survey from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Following the launch of the Welsh Government's 'help to buy' scheme, it is hoped that the housing market will be revitalised, but the FMB say more needs to be done to increase supply.

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RICS: 'Pleasing' figures for construction in Wales

Owain Llywelyn, Welsh spokesperson for the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors told ITV Cymru that today's figures are 'pleasing' and it shows there is an increased confidence in the construction industry across the UK.

He added Wales is beginning to witness an upsurge in this sector and the house building specifically has helped drive the recovery.

Revival of house building across Wales

Employment levels are also predicted to rise in the construction industry in 2014. Credit: PA

House building across Wales continued its revival towards the end of last year with the private sector leading the way, according to the latest survey by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Predictions for employment levels were also on the rise with 79% more chartered surveyors in Wales expecting workloads to increase rather than decrease this year.

However, the survey also revealed that there are some shortages in skills and materials, despite the recovery in the construction industry.

Neil Brierley, Chair of RICS Wales said:

_“With the Welsh economy continuing to improve in recent months, it is very welcome news that the construction industry has followed suit and activity is on the rise across the region. _

"More homes are being built, investment in infrastructure is continuing and Wales is beginning to benefit from this more positive picture."

Plans to build 450 new homes across Pembrokeshire

450 new homes could be coming to Pembrokeshire under new plans Credit: PA

Wales' largest house builder has announced plans to build 450 new homes across Pembrokeshire, with, it says, the potential to create over 1,300 jobs over the next five years.

Managing Director of Persimmon Homes West Wales, Huw Llewellyn, said: "We have found that the Local Authorities in West Wales have reacted more positively to the economic realities facing house builders and are taking positive steps to help make developments viable.

According to Pembrokeshire County Council's Local Development Plan, there is a significant lack of housing in the region and this latest announcement from Persimmon Homes will provide around 90 affordable houses.

The remainder will be available on the Welsh Government's Help to Buy Wales scheme thus helping first time buyers and families looking to upgrade to a bigger family home to do so.

Between now and 2021, Pembrokeshire County Council has made provision for 7,300 dwellings in the Local Development Plan, enabling the delivery of 5,700 homes, and Persimmon Homes is set to deliver eight per cent of this over the course of the next five years.

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New bill to tackle rogue landlords and homelessness

Unscrupulous landlords and homelessness are being targeted by a new law to control housing across Wales

A new bill has been published with measures to tackle both problems. It will involve the compulsory registration of landlords.

There will be fines for those who refuse, and councils will also be able to double the council tax on homes that are empty for more than a year.

Our Political Reporter Owain Phillips explains what the changes will mean in practice.

Lib Dems criticise 'half-baked' Tory housing ideas

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised proposals unveiled by the Welsh Conservatives to boost the supply of affordable housing. Housing spokesperson Peter Black described the plans as 'half-baked policy ideas' and urged the Tories to 'take themselves a bit more seriously.'

The most puzzling aspect of the policy is the proposal to include a "one-for-one" initiative with a new home built for every home sold. It is absurd that this is being proposed by the one party that actually wants to cut the housing budget. There is no indication how their policy will be paid for, where the new homes will be built and over what timescale.

It’s equally embarrassing that the Welsh Tories are promoting this as a policy for all of Wales and yet only eleven local councils still have council housing stock. Their 'revamped Right to Buy' policy can only therefore apply in half the country.

Whether it’s charging people for using the NHS, bringing back grammar schools, or selling off our social housing stock, the Welsh Tories time and time again show that their views are both out-dated and completely out of touch.

– Peter Black AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat

Labour slam 'poorly thought-out' Tory housing plans

Labour has criticised proposals unveiled by the Welsh Conservatives aimed at boosting affordable housing. The plans include revitalising the right-to-buy scheme but insisting that a new home is built for each one sold to a tenant. Click here to read more.

Labour AM Mike Hedges criticised the Welsh Conservatives for 'astonishing nerve' in bringing forward 'poorly thought-out housing proposals.' He said:

Whilst a Welsh Labour Government are always open to ideas to improve housing, no matter how unlikely the source, there are simply not enough details in these proposals to take them seriously. The fact that there is scant or no attention paid to the quality of homes, tenants, homelessness or social housing in these proposals show how out of touch the Tories have become and how distant they are to the results of their austerity politics in Westminster.

Their proposed reform of Right to Buy suggests spending all the receipts on housing on a one to one basis – if you offer tenants the opportunity to buy their homes at a discount, then will the receipt to enough to build a replacement property – where would any additional resources come from to deliver a one for one initiative?

– Mike Hedges AM, Labour

Welsh Conservatives and the politics of housing

The Welsh Conservative housing policy launch is the latest in a series of eye-catching ideas designed to establish the party in Wales as one with plenty of ideas and one very clearly on the centre-right of the political spectrum.

Its right to buy proposal will be the one to raise most eyebrows. The policy has been widely seen as one which has caused housing shortages rather than helped them and the Welsh Government battled the UK Government to win the power to suspend it in areas of housing pressure.

The Tories, however, see it as 'empowering' and believe they've dealt with the downside by linking the proceeds with new housebuilding. It seems unlikely the Welsh Government will pick up any of these ideas though: it has its own Housing Plan and a Housing Bill due to be introduced to the Assembly.

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