The housing minister says that there’ll be more money for a fund considered important in tackling homeless, if the Welsh Government sees an increase in its budget from Westminster.
There’s been criticism of a decision in the draft Welsh budget to freeze funding for the Housing Support Grant, seen as one of the main ways of stopping people become homeless, because keeping it at the same level is effectively a cut.
Speaking on last night’s Sharp End programme, the minister defended that decision, saying that it had been protected during nine years of UK Government austerity.
Julie James told the programme that freezing it had enabled more money to go to local councils to build social housing - another way of trying to prevent homelessness.
But she said that if the Welsh Government gets increased funding as the UK Government has promised, then the grant will be a top priority for extra cash.
Julie James will update Assembly Members on the Housing Support Grant today (Tuesday) but it’s not thought the statement in the Senedd will refer to any increase in funding.
It comes with renewed focus on homelessness after the latest rough sleeper count found that over a period of two weeks in November there were 405 people sleeping on the streets of Wales.
That’s led to those calls for increases to the housing support grant and other moves. The Welsh Conservatives are pushing the idea of a Homelessness Tsar.
Their Shadow Housing Minister David Melding said someone appointed to that role could be "a champion for the vulnerable."
But Julie James said such an appointment wouldn’t deal with the root of the problem.