24 Jun 2021

COVID-19 intensifies pressure on housing and homelessness services

On June 30 2020, Tyfu Tai Cymru (TTC - a five-year policy research project managed by CIH Cymru) published its findings from a survey of local authority housing professionals conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic started.

In late 2020, TTC returned to local government housing professionals to ask them how working through the pandemic has had an impact on the delivery of housing and housing services, and on staff well-being and resilience.

The report found that:

  • 49% of respondents were driven by their desire to help people – with working as part of a team also underpinning their desire to work within local government housing
  • Almost a third (30%) felt that effort to house people experiencing homelessness to provide protection and limit the spread of COVID-19 was one of the key positive actions to come about as a result of the pandemic
  • Staff felt that the move to remote working had improved the use of time and team efficiency, but that careful balancing to ensure staff do not feel isolated is needed
  • A combined lack of housing stock, staff capacity and the need to manage the impact of COVID-19 on top of already busy day jobs combined represent the most significant pressures facing local government housing staff
  • More affordable housing and more staff were highlighted as solutions to those pressures in addition to an easing of the pressure from the Welsh Government in terms of deadlines to put forward projects and apply for funding,
  • Over 80% of respondents felt that if housing targets are to be met, land supply/availability and resources will be required to support their achievement
  • In considering the strength of partnerships between the housing department and health and social care services, 86% of respondents had either some or no confidence in these arrangements

Read the full report  

Catherine May  |  Tyfu Tai Cymru Manager, CIH Cymru

This survey provides a sobering reminder of the pace with which public services have had to shift their resources and adapt their approach to delivering services in response to managing the COVID-19 crisis. We know that local government housing professionals were already experiencing significant pressures in carrying out their roles before the pandemic took hold, our survey clearly shows that despite some optimism amongst staff, these pressures have intensified. Pre-existing challenges such as the lack of social housing has made matters worse, whilst the pandemic has created an environment where deadline pressures for government support, the challenge of moving services to a virtual form of delivering services and some staff having to become overnight leaders have presented fresh issues for teams to overcome. Despite these challenges, local authorities have acted with flexibility and resilience in supporting staff to work from home, and to remove some of the bureaucracy that can sometimes lengthen the time it takes to achieve positive outcomes for people. Local authority housing professionals, who clearly face significant challenges in their day-to-day jobs, particularly during the pandemic, are driven by a strong desire to help people and work as part of a wider team. Their commitment and determination should be commended. But reflecting on these survey findings there is a clear risk that without further government support to meet current and future demand, the pressure on local authority housing professionals will only intensify further, limiting their ability to have the kind of impact we know they can achieve for each and every person who approaches them for help.

Notes for editors

  1. The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards. Our goal is simple – to provide housing professionals with the advice, support and knowledge they need to be brilliant. CIH is a registered charity and not-for-profit organisation. This means that the money we make is put back into the organisation and funds the activities we carry out to support the housing sector. We have a diverse membership of people who work in both the public and private sectors, in 20 countries on five continents across the world. Further information is available at: cih.org
  2. The survey intended for local government housing professionals was conducted via Survey Monkey and ran from 2nd November – 15th December 2021 – receiving 51 responses with at least 1 response from each local authority in Wales.
  3. Tyfu Tai Cymru is a 5-year policy research project funded by the Oak Foundation – further information on the project and its work is available here.
  4. For additional comments, interview arrangements or case studies please contact 07534404742 or kennedy@cih.org