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Hopes for the next Senedd term – Community Housing Cymru

May 3rd 2021

The next Welsh Government must invest in housing for the benefit of people across Wales and for future generations

Image of Quakers Yard, Merthyr Tydfil with kind permission of Lee Dare Photography

The pandemic has shown our potential to address the major challenges facing society if we’re freed from conventional thinking – the next Welsh Government must maintain this mindset. Housing will be vital to post-covid Wales and must be central to any government plans. We know this because we’ve already seen what the sector can deliver, and how its impacts extend far beyond bricks and mortar, supporting peoples’ health, job prospects and the environment. At the start of the pandemic, housing associations across Wales made properties available at short notice to house those who found themselves without a home, sharing staff and using vans to deliver food parcels. Right now, they are working with health partners to encourage take up of the vaccine as an organisation that is trusted in the local community. This swift, decisive and collaborative response to the pandemic from community partners proves the potential for significant positive action when we collaborate and place aside unnecessary bureaucracy and organisational silos. We know, too, that this is what people want. It was the message from our Influencing to Build a Better Future events, which brought together hundreds of colleagues from housing associations, the public, private and voluntary sectors last Summer.

The conditions that support us to live healthy and fulfilled lives are broad: our access to money and resources; our level of education and skills; the availability of good work; the quality and security of our housing and our surroundings. But these are not the responsibilities of just one agency. Better join-up with community partners, such as housing associations, can provide support at a much earlier stage, prevent escalation to crisis points and respond to an individual’s needs.

There are three things that the next Welsh Government could do which would support this. Firstly, bring clarity to the partnership landscape to make it easier for organisations from across sectors to work together on shared challenges and drawing on the capacity, skills and knowledge within community partners; secondly, be clear on what the priorities and performance indicators are and make sure that they are consistent across silos; and, thirdly, shift the balance of spending from crisis to prevention.

This is not easy. We recognise that. There will be difficult trade-offs for the next Welsh Government and money is tight. Investment should be prioritised and measured according to the impact it can have on future generations. We will need a balanced investment programme that makes every pound work hard to provide an economic, environmental and social boost to Wales. Spending on housing and support services meets these tests. The proposals in our Home manifesto call for a five-year, £1.5bn investment programme of at least 20,000 new energy efficient social homes alongside a ten-year, £4bn stimulus package, backed by a mix of public and private funding and continued support for the transformative work funded by the Housing Support Grant. This level of investment would make a huge difference, providing a £6bn economic boost, supporting 20,000 jobs and 6,000 wide ranging training opportunities and increasing the energy efficiency of up to 80,000 housing association homes. For our part, housing associations will continue to invest locally, raising our spending in Wales from 85p in every pound to 90p by the end of the next Senedd term, supporting local communities and using our 10,000 strong workforce to support our partners to make every contact count.

The last year has been pivotal for Wales, and the next Welsh Government has a huge opportunity to make investment count, for the benefit of people across Wales and for future generations. The housing sector is ready to play its full part to make it happen.

You can find out more about our ideas for change in our Home manifesto here.

Clarissa Corbisiero, Director of Policy and External Affairs/Deputy Chief Executive, Community Housing Cymru

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