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Minister boosts funding for social housing

Welsh Government has announced an extra £30m for social housing this year as it prepares to sign a Housing Supply Delivery Pact with housing associations and local authorities.

The extra money takes the Social Housing Grant (SHG) programme budget to £98m in 2016/17 and will be announced by communities and children minister Carl Sargeant in his speech to the Community Housing Cymru (CHC) conference in Cardiff on Thursday morning.

The conference will also see the unveiling of the pact between Welsh Government, CHC and the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA). They will pledge to work together to help deliver the government’s target of 20,000 affordable homes in this Assembly term. This total includes 6,000 homes for sale delivered via Help to Buy.

Housing associations have committed to the delivery of at least 12,500 homes, a big increase on previous years, while many local authorities will also be building a significant number of homes for the first time in years. The Housing Supply Pact also promises thousands of training and employment opportunities and apprenticeships by 2021.

Carl Sargeant said:

‘I want to strengthen the partnerships through which we can meet the new target as this will strongly influence our approach to housing supply over the next five years.

‘We plan to invest over £1.5bn in affordable homes during this term of government. Continued support for social housing is crucial. “Business as usual” is not an option but tried and tested schemes including the Social Housing Grant (SHG) Programme and Housing Finance Grant will play a key role in delivering affordable homes and assisting the most vulnerable to access and keep their housing.

‘The original Social Housing Grant (SHG) Programme budget for this year was £68m. The additional £30m I am announcing today will take this programme’s budget to almost £100m.’

Housing associations helped deliver 94% of the previous five-year target of 10,000 affordable homes.

CHC chief executive Stuart Ropke said:

‘Our members provide homes for some of the most vulnerable people in Wales, providing them with the support and care that just isn’t available anywhere else.  They also make a huge contribution to the Welsh economy and for every £1 spent by a housing association, 90p remains in Wales, benefiting local business and communities.

‘Housing associations will be involved in creating up to 12,500 training and employment opportunities, which will mean new jobs and apprenticeships. There will also be skills development and support for 25,000 people’

Steve Thomas, chief executive of the WLGA, said councls were already working closely with associations and added:

‘A number of local authority landlords will also be building new homes themselves, and local councils will continue to play an important role, making land available for new homes and working together with partners to fulfil this target. This is a historic partnership that will benefit everyone in Wales.’

The minister will also stress the importance of looking beyond the numbers and of showing ambition in the design and quality of he homes that get built. He said:

‘I want the sector to support the development and delivery of new types of homes that meet not only current demands and needs, but also those of the future. This includes the use of innovative building methods. It also includes action to meet the challenges of fuel poverty and our carbon reduction targets.

‘Building homes delivers important benefits beyond simply putting a roof over people’s heads. Alongside the well-documented health and education benefits that good quality housing provides for children and families, building homes of all tenures has a significant positive impact on the Welsh economy and on our communities. Delivering new homes for Wales is at the heart of my ambition for the new Assembly term.’


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