Affordable housing supply in Wales – A voice for tenants
In April, 2018, Housing and Regeneration Minister Rebecca Evans announced an independent review of affordable housing supply in Wales. The Welsh Government has set a target of constructing 20,000 affordable homes by the end of the Assembly term in 2021, with an eagerness to continue their programme of affordable house building beyond 2021, setting even more stretching targets. In addition to constructing more affordable homes, the Welsh Government are also keen to improve the design, quality and energy efficiency of new build houses in Wales. The aim of the review is therefore to support the Welsh Government and the sector in Wales to reach these aims in a climate of continuing pressures on the public expenditure available to support house building.
The review will be undertaken by an independent panel and will be chaired by Lynn Pamment, a senior partner at Price Waterhouse Copper’s Cardiff Office. In July, 2018 the panel issued a ‘call for evidence’ to ensure extensive engagement across the housing sector. The call for evidence was structured around 10 workstream areas that form the scope of the review. To see the areas please see page 4 of this link.
A voice for tenants
Along with sitting on the working groups for two of the workstream areas, TPAS Cymru welcomed the opportunity to provide a response to the call for evidence.
We surmised that:
Tenants and residents’ views and aspirations should be at the heart of any new policy direction on affordable housing. They should inform future standards and priorities.
Yes, we have a housing crisis and a need to accelerate the number of units we deliver. However, the need for quick, cost effective delivery could lead to a lack of emphasis on the “liveability” and ‘lifetime’ of a property and its design quality. The importance of creating homes and communities where people want to live now and in the future is too often forgotten.
In particular, we are concerned that there is a danger of losing the “social” in social housing due to the budget and income pressures putting a greater focus on rental returns. Grant assistance is a key tool in ensuring that landlords are able to stay socially minded. This requires keeping rents affordable and being in a confident position to develop and allocate homes which is essential for the most vulnerable households in Wales.