Affordable housing supply review – a route map to increased funding certainty and affordability?
The independent affordable housing supply review panel has today released its recommendations following almost a year of work engaging with stakeholders from across the sector.
The review has worked across a number of workstreams engaging with experts considering the supply of land, innovative housing and measuring housing need.
The review’s main recommendations cover:
- Consolidate and simplify standards for all new build affordable homes;
- New affordable homes to be built to EPC ‘A’ standard from 2021 and by 2025 all new builds to meet this standard irrespective of tenure;
- Implementing a five-year rent policy from 2020-21, providing stability for tenants and landlords;
- An independent financial review of the Welsh Large Scale Voluntary Transfers in receipt of Dowry and the Housing Revenue Accounts of local authorities in receipt of Major Repairs Allowance
- A requirement for the Welsh Large Scale Voluntary Transfers and local authorities to invest in the decarbonisation of existing homes in return for an ongoing commitment to Dowry and Major Repairs Allowance;
- Establishing an arms-length body to act as a hub for public sector land management and professional services, to speed up the development of public land for affordable housing;
- A new approach to replace the Social Housing Grant, with an ambitious model focused on results, fairness, quality, transparency and value for money.
CIH Cymru, in initially providing a comprehensive body of written evidence to inform the work of the review panel outlined the need to:
- Consider the need to create one cohesive housing system that works for everyone
- Explore the opportunities to create a rights-based approach for housing in Wales
- Address stigma towards tenants living in social housing
- Provide a sustainable rent policy that balances affordability
- Create long-term certainty around grant-levels to enable social housing providers to plan effectively
CIH Cymru believes that the recommendations do provide a route map that can deliver:
- Greater long-term funding certainty to ensure the sector is able to deliver on the ambitions set-out in the review
- A balanced rent policy that maintains affordability whilst boosting capacity to deliver new social housing
- Maintain high standards in the quality of homes and further develop our ability to deliver on the Welsh Government’s carbo-neutral ambitions
Responding to the review’s recommendations CIH Cymru director Matt Dicks said:
“Today has the potential to improve the way housing professionals and organisations work for years to come. The review has put forward recommendations to encourage partnerships to develop more homes across larger areas and measures to enable local authorities to build more and ways to better use public sector land.
“This represents in some ways, a radical step forward. Despite the excellent work being undertaken by housing professionals across Wales – it is these kinds of bold recommendations that will enable the profession to deliver even greater outcomes for and with communities across Wales.
“We would expect the Welsh Government to adopt the recommendations in full but during that process we must ensure we guard against unintended consequences, particularly around the proposed grant regime – which has raised concerns about a race to the bottom as a more variable approach to grant allocation leads housing organisations to promise ever more homes per pound of grant.
“The report also rightly raises questions about the capacity at Welsh Government, Local authority and in housing associations to deliver on the vision – the Welsh Government will need to invest, up front, if they are to meet their own objective of “good, quality, affordable housing” available for everyone in Wales.
“We must also balance our enthusiasm with an understanding of what needs to be done to deliver one cohesive housing system that is able to meet the housing needs of everyone in Wales – over and above the recommendations published today. . This must include exploring a rights-based approach to housing in Wales; exploring how housing services that alleviate pressure on the NHS; and supporting private sector landlords and tenants to thrive.
“The launch of the review’s recommendations is timely for professionals from across the sector who are attending our annual conference TAI 2019 today and will have the opportunity to engage with the recommendations and consider their role in delivering these.”