CIH Cymru welcomes government’s positive response to new approach to delivering affordable homes
Following a comprehensive review of affordable housing supply in Wales undertaken by an independent panel, the Welsh government has provided its response to the recommendations put forward accepting all but one (relating to the help to buy scheme where the Welsh government’s response is dependant on the outcome of the UK government’s comprehensive spending review).
The recommendations supported by the Welsh government include:
- The creation of affordable housing partnerships to develop homes on a regional basis underpinned by five-year plans for delivery
- A new arms-length organisation to manage and plan the use of public sector land
- A five-year rent settlement aimed at providing greater certainty to tenants and housing providers alike
- Targets for carbon neutral standards in new affordable homes from 2021 (with the same standards in homes across all tenures by 2025)
Director of CIH Cymru Matt Dicks broadly welcomed the response: “This review has seen the insight of housing professionals, who work tirelessly to deliver high quality homes and housing-related support services, play a critical role in informing the work and discussions of the panel.
Those professionals told us they wanted greater certainty on funding, better coordination around land and planning, consistency in data and evidence and support to build even better affordable homes at pace and scale.
"Aspects of the recommendations indicate a significant change in policy – including the new affordable housing supply partnerships, flexible grant rate and ramping up local authority housebuilding. It is to be welcomed, therefore, that the Welsh government has either fully or partially accepted almost all recommendations committing to taking these approaches forward.
"Despite the massive effort by all involved to date in this process, we must remain grounded and remind ourselves that this is the start of a process that we must now work to implement in practise. All the while recognising the consequences if we fail to act on the evidence where in all likelihood, our social housing waiting lists will continue to grow, our homelessness challenges become even more profound and our ability to tackle poverty hindered further.
"We strongly welcome the minister’s proactive engagement with planning authorities to encourage sites to be supported that include at least 50 per cent affordable housing. To support this, the Welsh government must meet the aspirations outlined in the review with long-term investment to back the supply of the right kind of homes underpinned by a commitment to ensuring these efforts benefit those communities where affordable homes are sorely needed, in the form of sustainable jobs, apprenticeships and training opportunities.
"We also note that the minister will announce the five-year rent policy before the summer recess and would urge her to find the right balance that provides affordable rent levels whilst allowing housing organisations to continue planned development.
"Whilst the review rightly focuses on affordable housing, we must remain minded of the bigger housing picture where supporting private landlords, addressing the challenges of welfare reform and working more closely with our colleagues in health and more broadly public services must continue to be a common feature of the environment we all work in.”