DURING a recent mini-reshuffle of the Plaid Cymru group at the National Assembly I was delighted to be assigned the role of spokesperson for women, young people and housing.

It’s very clear that these issues are hugely impacted upon by the recent changes made to social security by the UK government.

Readers may recall that I served as deputy minister for housing and regeneration in the last Welsh Government, and I’m very proud of what our party achieved during that term of office.

It highlighted for me both the possibilities that devolution offers us in finding solutions to the challenges we face but also the frustrations of having limited devolution, especially in an important area like housing.

The Welsh Government has no powers over social security, where readers will know huge changes are being made.

Perhaps the most talked-about is the ‘bedroom tax’ which is affecting around 40,000 social housing tenants in this country.

Whatever your view on reform to social security, it is obvious that the UK government is addressing socalled ‘under-occupancy’ back-tofront.

It is estimated that 28,000 social housing properties are ‘underoccupied’ but there are just 400 onebedroom social properties available to downsize to.

For years, my party has argued that creating new, affordable homes, including one and two bedroom properties will not only give alternatives to under-occupancy but will also be a much needed boost to our troubled economy.

Punishing people by slashing their housing benefit by up to 25 per cent won’t work as any sort of incentive – there just aren’t the homes to move into.

A spotlight has been shone on the housing shortage by Plaid Cymru recently when a Freedom of Information request by the party highlighted the effects of government inaction.

The party obtained figures showing that homeless people in Wales have been housed in B&Bs by local authorities for up to 14 months and hundreds did not have any permanent accommodation to go to when they left temporary accommodation.

It’s not just the fact that being housed in B&Bs is expensive and unsustainable, it can be a big destabilising factor on families with children, affecting their schooling and general wellbeing.

Homeless people are also are expected to be out of B&Bs during the daytime, so have to roam the streets.

Despite limitations on its powers, the Welsh Government has some tools to get to grip with aspects of housing. It’s high time it did.