The last word on housing need in Wales
Following the publication of the late Dr Alan Holmans’ report on future need and demand for housing in Wales, CIH Cymru policy and public affairs manager Julie Nicholas reflects on its messages for policy makers and the legacy of a highly respected housing academic.
In Wales we’ve been using the ‘Holmans’ housing need figures for some time now - in fact the 2010 report has featured in every issue of the Welsh Housing Review that I have written, including the latest edition launched only last month. This year I knew that we were going to receive an update on that figure from Dr Alan Holmans, following a commission by Welsh Government with the Public Policy Institute for Wales in 2014. I was glad it was due to be published ahead of the Assembly elections next May, as Dr Holmans' esteemed findings would undoubtedly help to influence emerging political policies.
The sad news about Alan Holmans’ death earlier in the year inevitably meant a delay to the release of the updated analysis on Welsh housing need and demand for the period 2011 to 2031. Last week that report was published; heralding the final forecast for Wales from a great housing champion and highly respected academic.
Two estimates are presented in the report; one based on the Welsh Government’s official projections for the growth in the number of households (the ‘principal projection’), the other based on a projection developed by Dr Holmans (the ‘alternative projection’), who argued that the Welsh Government may have under-estimated future growth in the number of households.
Based on the principle projection, the report estimates that in the period 2011-2031, Wales needs 8,700 new homes each year, of which 3,300 a year will be social housing.
The alternative projection gives a higher estimate of need and demand: a need of 12,000 new homes a year; of which 4,200 should be social housing.
Dr Holmans' final report tells us that we are right to continue to prioritise increasing the supply of housing for Welsh citizens, as we have in the CIH Cymru agenda for change and as the new cross-sector Homes for Wales campaign will also highlight. The report also supports our call for greater public investment in homes, particularly if we are to increase the rate of new social house building for families who cannot afford what the market is currently offering.
The integrity of Alan Holmans' research was highly respected across the housing community. His final contribution should be heeded by Welsh policy makers and influencers. His report states that there needs to be a return to rates of house building in Wales not seen in a generation, particularly an increase in the rate of growth of affordable housing.
The report contains Dr Holmans' final, wise words on what our citizens' housing needs are in Wales - words that all political parties would do well to heed as they develop their manifestos ahead of next year's election.