Week 4 at the National Assembly for Wales

Time is going by way too quickly! The Assembly’s term ends in 3 weeks and I think that’s just now hitting me – I’m trying to make the most of my time left. I’m still progressing with my long-term project and spent most of this week focusing on youth homelessness, veteran homelessness and best practice homelessness reduction methods. I also got to do some really fascinating research for a debate my AM was taking part in. The way the week goes when the Assembly is in term is every Tuesday, the AMs go to Plenary and ask the First Minister questions for the first hour on recent events, followed by two hours of general questions relating to that week’s chosen topic. On Wednesday, Plenary is more focused on having a few hour-long debates on varying subjects. This week, my AM was speaking on the land transaction tax that Wales applied to commercial property. Though its seen as beneficial to first-time homeowners and those residing in cheaper properties, the 6% tax is seen a big hindrance to investment, thereby causing a lot of debate.

I also got to sit in on a meeting for the first time, hosted by my AM for the Welsh Federation of Master Builders. The association wanted to voice their concerns over the lack of a centralised contractor certification service and my AM, being the Shadow Housing Minister, was more than happy to sit down with them. We were also lucky enough to get the current government’s Housing Minister to attend which made the meeting even more interesting because the woman who had the power to actually implement these changes was hearing about the issue first-hand. The main problem that the federation brought up is for ordinary people who want some contractor work done on their property, there is no database of verified contractors available. Many people use this as an opportunity to scam innocent customers, posing as contractors to gain access to homes. The federation presented a well-crafted plan for a licensing system and database, as well a grandfathering program for people who have more than a certain number of years’ work experience. Sitting in on this meeting allowed me to learn a great deal about something I had never previously thought about – if it did ever occur to me, I just assumed such a database already existed. Hearing stories from stakeholders and people whose reputations are actually affected by these scammers was a fascinating experience for me, especially as I got to experience someone in a position to implement tangible change interacting with those affected.