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The January 2019 issue of WHQ is a celebration of the past, present and future of council housing.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the landmark 1919 Housing Act. While local authorities had been building homes since the 1860s, the legislation introduced by Christopher Addison marked the first time they were required to address local housing needs and given the tools and resources to do the job. In the aftermath of the First World War and with half an eye on the Russian Revolution, they were the ones charged with producing Homes Fit for Heroes.

In a sign of things to come later in the century, the Treasury cut the programme after two years, and only 213,000 of the promised 500,000 council homes were ever built. Addison himself resigned in protest but the Addison Act did not just leave behind a physical legacy that can still be seen across the country, it also established the principles of council housing as we still know it.

Our special issue kicks off with an article from John Boughton, author of the book and blog Municipal Dreams, telling the story of what he calls ‘a rare and unique moment’ in the UK as a whole. That’s followed by Stephen Kay going in search of Homes Fit for Heroes in Wales.

The last 40 of the 100 years since 1919 have seen council housing in retreat thanks to the right to buy, public spending cuts and central government hostility to municipal provision. But recent political developments in Cardiff and Westminster mean that council housing can look to the future with more confidence than for years. Already suspended in many parts of Wales, the right to buy formally ends as this issue is published. And the borrowing caps that hamstrung local authority new-build plans have now been scrapped in England and Wales. Matt Dicks sets the scene for council housing in the 21st century.

We take the temperature of the sector in five different Welsh local authorities in this centenary year. Lynda Thorne in Cardiff tells us about the Labour council’s ambitious and recently extended target for new homes. Swansea, one of the pioneers even before 1919, is now building homes again but, as Andrea Lewis explains, it also has wider ambitions. We hear from Llinos Medi Hews and Alun Mummery in Anglesey about Plaid’s plans for council housing there. And Robin Staines outlines the thinking behind Carmarthenshire’s housing company Cartrefi Croeso.

However, half of Welsh local authorities have transferred their stock to housing associations. What do councils do when they do not have any council housing anymore? Jen Ellis explains Rhondda Cynon Taf’s continuing role after stock transfer.

Elsewhere in this issue, we have the latest on the independent review of affordable housing supply from Lynn Pamment and we also feature the latest research underpinning new moves on youth homelessness, the campaign to end Sex for Rent, articles on resident involvement, Review Together and Housing First and a valedictory piece from Chris O’Meara marking the end of her long career in housing.

If you already subscribe to WHQ you can find all that plus all our regular features in the print edition out this week and online here. If you want to find out more about subscribing, go here for more details.


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