The Arbed Scheme

1. Questions to the First Minister – in the Senedd at on 11 June 2024.

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Photo of Luke Fletcher Luke Fletcher Plaid Cymru

(Translated)

8. What discussions has the First Minister had with Bridgend County Borough Council regarding support for residents adversely affected by the Arbed scheme? OQ61253

Photo of Vaughan Gething Vaughan Gething Labour 2:26, 11 June 2024

While I have not directly been involved in these discussions, our officials are in regular contact with Bridgend County Borough Council. The Welsh Government awarded a £2.65 million grant fund to the council for remedial works on affected homes. A fully accredited contractor has been appointed and mobilisation works are well under way to address the issues of very real concern.

Photo of Luke Fletcher Luke Fletcher Plaid Cymru 2:27, 11 June 2024

Thank you for that answer, First Minister. I understand that Warmworks has been commissioned to deal with the insulation repair scheme, but residents in Caerau in the Llynfi valley have been contacting me with concerns. They've lost faith that anything will be sorted given the amount of time that this has gone on for. They're concerned that there's no talk of compensation despite residents needing to fork out thousands of pounds on repairs to their homes. This is, of course, a saga that has gone on for over a decade. One constituent has told me that her daughter is 12, so for almost her entire life she's lived in a home plagued with damp and has known nothing else. I wouldn't accept these conditions, you wouldn't accept these conditions, so can I get a commitment from you today that the Government will provide whatever support is needed to expedite this repair process in partnership with BCBC to put this right, but also to consider compensation for residents who entered this Government's scheme in good faith but ended up getting burnt?

Photo of Vaughan Gething Vaughan Gething Labour 2:28, 11 June 2024

It's worth just reflecting on the history and the reality of what the affected group of people have gone through. This was funding on the Arbed 2 scheme in 2014-15. Of course, Arbed 1 was introduced in the One Wales Government, so this was building on the work that was done, and most homes under that scheme have seen a real benefit. However, where the work is not done appropriately, it does have a very real impact on conditions in the home.

The external wall insulation that was installed in Caerau was funded by the UK Government's community energy saving programme. The real issue at the time was that there was no requirement for guarantees for the quality of the work. That has meant that the people haven't had an individual remedy to go back to the installer; it's why the council, through its own resources and with a Welsh Government grant, is now undertaking the remedial work. That was agreed previously by the then Minister for Climate Change, Julie James, who still retains responsibility for housing, and the work is now being undertaken.

It is important that the work is done and done to high standards, and we then need to see if there is a future remedy for the individual home owners. The challenge always is that if either the council or the Government provide additional resource for the people affected, that's resource that can't go into other areas. But I recognise that it's a very real injustice for those people, so I'd want to keep an open conversation with residents, the council and, indeed, our own housing department. But the priority must be to make sure that the work is done to a proper standard and people receive the benefit they thought they were signing up to.