English | Cymraeg Tel: 029 2076 5760 Connect: Twitter

TAI 2016 Day Two

WHQ’s coverage of the second day of TAI will be updated through the day on this live blog.

Welsh infrastructure

Kellie Beirne set out the ambitions for the Cardiff Capital Region, starting with ways to link physical and knowledge infrastructure. It’s not just about the Metro, she said, but about thinking differently about the way they work together. As for housing, we have to think about settlements not just the homes: building live-work spaces; devolving place-based funding; and using foundational economics in community development. As things stand, the economy of the region is (t0 use the technical term) ‘on its arse’. Looking to the future we have to close the productivity gap but change has to be about more than just trickle-down economics.  ‘There’s something wrong, I think, if we don’t achieve a double dividend.’

So what’s the big deal? See Kellie’s article in the latest WHQ

Gerwyn Tumelty explained plans for the Swansea Lagoon Project, one of six tidal lagoons planned in the UK that could deliver 8% of our energy needs. That will mean £40bn of investment and the target is that half of that should be Welsh-based. Power is set to come through by 2022 or 2023 and the six projects could boost UK GDP by £27bn during construction. For housing associations and local authorities it could mean a chance to invest upfront in return for long-term cheap energy, keeping the benefits within the community.

Rising Stars Cymru

The finalists – Donna Williams, Jamie Roberts and Louise Kingdon – were on their feet for their second presentations, this time on the conference theme of ‘housing is the remedy’. Donna spoke on the bedroom tax and what housing organisations can do, Jamie asked what housing is – and should be – the remedy for, and Louise argued that housing is the remedy for young people. Another tough task for the judges.

Homelessness prevention

The workshop on the policy looks like becoming Wales’ biggest housing export saw Jennie Bibbings of Shelter Cymru, Elliw Llyr from Gwynedd and Hugh Russell from CHC give the different perspectives of homelessness campaign, local authority and housing associations. Jennie outlined what’s been a real success story: single homeless households have got more help; intentionality is down by 65%; and there’s been a 15% reduction in the use of interim accommodation. However, she said there were also some early warning signs of possible problems ahead, for example with a rise in people declared to be ‘unreasonably failing to co-operate).

One thing that struck me from the contributions from Elliw and Hugh was that the new duty is changing ways of thinking and working that go beyond what we normally think of as ‘homelessness’. One example is new ways of sharing information; another is a clearer recognition of the links between tenancy sustainment work and preventing homelessness. There is closer collaboration too, with more conversations happening before decisions are made, and good use of personal housing plans (another Welsh invention).

Cross-country housing policy

The housing policies and systems of the UK nations are diverging rapidly despite operating under austerity and (for the most part) welfare reform from Westminster and the same pressures of an ageing population. What’s becoming an annual workshop heard from four CIH policy specialists: Julie Nicholas (Wales), Justin Cartwright (Northern Ireland), Melanie Rees (England) and Ashley Campbell (Scotland). Most of the divergence comes from England, of course, and what Melanie described as the ‘front-loaded’ waves of policies from a government determined to reverse the decline of home ownership and ‘reform’ social housing.

Wales in contrast has political consensus, a conception of housing as one system and not two major pieces of housing legislation that are just starting to have an effect. Northern Ireland has been insulated from the worst impacts of welfare reform by a different devolution arrangement and remains as committed as Wales to social and affordable housing but faces a political impasse on what to do about the Housing Executive. Scotland has political parties competing with each other as to who will build more affordable homes, the end of the right to buy and reform of private tenancies.

Sign up to our email newsletter

Every two months we'll email you a summary of the latest news & articles on the WHQ website. Better still, if you're a fully paid up magazine subscriber, you'll get access to the latest members-only articles as well.

Sign up for the email newsletter »

Looking to advertise in our magazine?

Advertising and sponsored features are a great way to raise your profile with our readership of housing and regeneration decision makers in Wales.

Find out more »