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New issue of WHQ out now

The cost of living crisis and the impacts of the pandemic are the twin themes of the Spring 2022 issue of WHQ.

The magazine is available as a PDF and as an online edition for subscribers, who also have full access to individual online articles and our full archive of past issues. A few articles are also free to access to give non-subscribers a taste of what they are missing. For details about how to subscribe, go here.

Our lead theme is the cost of living crisis triggered by surging prices for energy, fuel and  food – and, of course, housing – and wages and benefits that are not keeping pace with inflation and are falling in real terms.

That will inevitably lead to more intense poverty, says Victoria Winckler of the Bevan Foundation, and while the Welsh Government has stepped in, there are limits to what it can achieve in the fact of the fundamental problem that benefits are inadequate for meeting people’s long-term needs.

Steffan Evans looks at the situation with one particular benefit: the fresh freeze in Local Housing Allowance that has led to a rising shortfall against rents for private tenants.

Meanwhile, there are still things that social landlords can do in taking a broader view of tenants’ wellbeing to ease the squeeze.

We have two examples of housing associations that are doing just that: ClwydAlyn has expanded its mission to beat poverty with major new initiatives on food poverty while Grŵp Cynefin’s energy wardens are advising tenants on what they can do to dilute the effects of rising bills.

The soaring cost of energy is at the heart of the crisis, with the latest Welsh Government estimates suggesting that 45 per cent of households – and 98 per cent of low-income households- are now in fuel poverty. Ben Saltmarsh of National Energy Action looks at the scale of the crisis and what governments can do about it.

Our second set of themed articles marks two years on from the first Covid-19 lockdown. We look at the long-term impacts and ask what has changed for good in the wake of the pandemic.

Gareth Leech and Rowjee Kaur of Housing Futures Cymru look at how Covid has changed work, and we hear from Melin Homes and ClwydAlyn about what’s changed in the last two years and from Jen Ellis of RHA Wales on becoming a ‘flexi-employer’..

But we also take a step back from day to day work as Chris Bolton reflects on the role of board members and Ewan Hilton asks how much we have really learned from lockdown.

With Wales having the oldest housing stock in Europe, Chris Jones of Care & Repair Cymru says the pandemic has shown that the condition of a property and the health of its occupant are inexorably linked. It’s one more argument for a right to decent housing.

Finally, Matt Downie of Crisis says the pandemic has shown what we can achieve by working together. Now is not the time to lower our ambitions to end homelessness.

Other highlights in this issue include:

Romy Wood of Housing Justice Cymru explains some of the issues with Homes for Ukraine and hopes it will make existing hosting projects less of an uphill struggle.

John Keegan of Monmouthshire Housing explains the unusual problem blocking new homes in the Usk and Wye valleys.

Duncan Forbes reflects on lessons for retrofit from the last big improvement programme for the social housing stock, WHQS.

Bill Rowlands reports on a schools-based imitative that aims to reduce youth homelessness and help with education.

We also have all the features and updates on finance, regulation, research, policy and housing support and community-led housing that make up a regular part of WHQ. Discover more details about subscribing here.

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