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CIH Cymru – Hopes and fears

Matt Kennedy looks forward to the review of affordable housing supply.

It’s been almost a year in the making – workstream meetings engaging a wide range of housing professionals helping to shape and formulate its recommendations – and the time is almost upon when the review of affordable housing supply, led by Lynn Pamment, will officially report.

Ten years on from the Essex review it’s fair to say this is a pretty big deal. The review has been faced with a real head scratcher as they attempt to formulate recommendations that enable the sector to build more homes, to consistently high standards whilst making the available resources go further.

So where can we be hopeful?

Overall it seems the review is likely to be far more targeted and produce less recommendations. It seems unlikely that some of the topics that featured heavily in the Essex Review, such as decarbonisation, leveraging investment and standards won’t feature heavily again, but will no doubt be framed within the modern-day context.

Looking at the workstream we’ll no doubt see recommendations focussing on housing demand, the role of local authorities in directly building new social housing and some potential improvements to the certainty afforded to organisations via the grant regime.

As CIH Cymru we’ve called on the review to advocate a culture that looks beyond housing targets, ensuring there’s a deeper understanding of how we meet housing demand whilst building homes that are sustainable and fit for the future. We can be hopeful therefore that the review will set out a standard vision for social housing that reflect the sector’s ambition in this area.

Where might we be left wanting?

Like any review, this one understandably doesn’t cover anything, and therefore its success will need to be considered in tandem with our ability to make progress in a number of areas. The uncertainty caused by Brexit is unhelpful to any sector considering its future sustainability – local procurement, skills initiatives, funding shortfalls potentially occurring as a result need to be carefully considered.

The review will no doubt touch upon the area of cross-sector collaboration, particularly with the health service. We know, however, that collaboration between services across health, housing and social care have been growing in their consistency and quality over the years, but ensuring the approach is the norm in all areas requires further attention. Hopefully the review will be able to make some common sense (such as land use) where this collaboration can be mainstreamed further.

Whilst the review is clearly focussed on affordable housing supply in Wales it’s vital that we consider the role of the private rented sector (PRS). The PRS is playing a pivotal role in working with local authorities to alleviate homelessness and increase the amount of home available to people in acute housing need. Progress through the review in terms of social housing need to be matched by supporting the growth and role of the PRS – otherwise we risk creating greater inequalities between tenures.

Ultimately, even in areas over and above the remit of the review, the benefit it provides is a potentially stronger foundation from on which to progress. If implemented effectively, the review is a real opportunity to build one cohesive housing system in Wales.

Matt Kennedy is policy and public affairs manager at CIH Cymru

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