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’Llygaid yr haul’ – Claire’s New Housing Professional blog

Our New Housing Professional finalists have all blogged for us from a session on day one at TAI 2017 – here’s Claire Twamley, Cartrefi Conwy’s blog.

Claire Twamley, Cartrefi Conwy

Along with Tai 2017 day one delegates I had the pleasure of listening to the enthusiastic Ian Williams talking about ‘Supporting housing association sector development’ in a plenary session. Ian is Head of RSL Sector Development at the Welsh Government and with a colourful background, he is famously known for being a member of the Tynnal Tywyll band.

Ian introduced the session with four overarching strategies: prosperous, connected, healthy and learning and the importance of embedding these into the housing sector. A key focus was partnership working and the need for Welsh Government and the sector to deliver solutions together. The session emphasised the 20,000 affordable homes target as having many owners which could not be truer! The target has the largest ever financial commitment and the sector is in the ‘eye of the sunshine’. Collaborative working amongst us all is vital to the success of achieving the target.

The focus on partnerships continued throughout the plenary with a commitment of collaborative working with planning teams and sector development to ensure land held for economic development considers housing as an enormous benefit to the economy. The social value of housing must remain transparent and utilise data to demonstrate the added value of housing including early intervention, prevention and endless support provided by the sector.

Ian identified the need to challenge the types of homes we deliver in times of austerity increased quality and lower costs may see a shift to cost-effective modular designs- but this won’t be the only answer. We must also prioritise home ownership and commit to providing clear options to all with the possibility of rent to own schemes and shared ownership. The success of the Help To Buy scheme clearly demonstrates a requirement to do so. We have lots of different tools to help us but it is clear we need to use them to suit different localities and individuals.

The session also proved thought-provoking with Ian identifying owner occupiers and private rented sector as a large demographic that had not been included in beneficial schemes such as NEST and WHQS. The point further affirmed with the delivery of a strong message- a child was most likely cold this Christmas in an owner occupier or private rented property. Subsequently, we must focus on environmental factors now rather than in 2020 and what the unified approach can deliver.

One message was clear: the terrific news for the sector that Welsh Government is confident about ONS reclassification reversal means we must continue borrowing, building and ‘we’ll all get our own bits done!’

It truly is time for RSLs to be clear on timelines and delivery expectations to enable Welsh Government to continue to align with the affordable homes target. Let’s take one thing from Tai 2017 and remember we all have a part to play in the ‘Eye of the Sunshine’. A session that was inspirational and influential leading many housing professionals, new and experienced, to consider how further collaborative working can prove highly beneficial across the sector.

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