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Right to adequate housing ‘would save billions’

Introducing a right to adequate housing in Wales would generate billions of pounds worth of savings over the next 30 years, says independent analysis for supporters of the policy.

The headline finding from the Back the Bill campaign comes from the second phase of research into the social and economic impacts of a right to adequate housing in Wales.

Commissioned by the Back the Bill partners (Tai Pawb, Shelter Cymru and CIH Cymru), the independent analysis by Alma Economics  identifies benefits to the public purse worth £11.5bn against overall costs of £5bn over a 30-year period.

That means that every £1 spent on the right to adequate housing would generate £2.30 in benefits. And it is projected that the benefits could start to outweigh costs after just six years.

According to the analysis, the right to adequate housing would save

  • save £5.5bn in improved well-being
  • save £2bn from local council budgets
  • save £1bn for the NHS
  • save £1bn for the criminal justice system
  • generate £1bn in additional economic activity.

On health and well-being, for example, the report projects that the improved quality and suitability of homes would lead to less hospital admissions; equally, with a gradual increase in the number of suitable homes available, there would be less reliance on council and other homelessness support services, resulting in further savings to the public purse.

The Back the Bill campaign is calling for the right to adequate housing to be introduced progressively, starting with a Right to Housing Act to drive the long-term investment needed, year on year, so that everyone in Wales will be able to live in a good home they can afford.

In its report, Alma Economics shows how the proposed legislation would support important priorities for the Welsh Government and the people of Wales, such as decarbonising the housing stock across Wales by 2050 and providing homes suitable for an ageing population. Additionally, a right to adequate housing would drive action to tackle inequalities by reducing overcrowding and better supporting disabled people to access homes that meet their needs.

The research will support work towards a government White Paper on proposals for a right to adequate housing that was included in the co-operation agreement between Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.

Commenting jointly on its publication, Alicja Zalesinska (CEO – Tai Pawb), Ruth Power (CEO – Shelter Cymru) and Matt Dicks (director – CIH Cymru) said:

‘The report identifies a synergy between the right to adequate housing and existing housing policy commitments, such as decarbonisation, ending homelessness and support for an ageing population. There are significant pressures facing many households who are homeless or in poor quality or unaffordable homes as we approach the winter; we firmly believe that a right to adequate housing will, over time, help create a Wales where people can rely upon having a good home that they can afford, and which meets their basic needs.

‘That the benefits could outweigh the cost within six years of the introduction of a right to adequate housing demonstrates that the lack of good homes has a significant impact across many areas of public spending. The question is now “Why wouldn’t we introduce a right to adequate housing in Wales?”.’

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