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Housing gains as consequentials boost Final Budget

Finance minister Rebecca Evans has found £10 million in extra funding for social housing and homelessness prevention in the Welsh Government’s Final Budget for 2024/25.

The minister said was able to make more changes than usual to the Draft Budget in the wake of funding consequentials from UK Government increases in spending in devolved areas in England during this financial year.

She said: ‘This information has come through very late in the year. At £231 million, the additional revenue represents around two-thirds of our reserve capacity.

‘If we had had this information when we were managing our difficult in-year position we could have made some different choices this year, and avoided making some of the more difficult decisions. However, it does mean that we can make almost £190 million of extra allocations in the Final Budget for next year.’

The headline extra allocations include funding for local government and schools, £40 million in new capital funding for the NHS, £30 million for the Holyhead Breakwater and a £20 million fund to support small and medium sized businesses.

There are also ‘a number of Financial Transactions capital allocations, including up to £20 million to progress housing proposals, continuing to support additional social housing to help tackle homelessness, and the associated indirect costs including poorer health, employment and educational outcomes’.

Community Housing Cymru said the Final Budget background documents detail a £5 million increase in Social Housing Grant compared to the Draft Budget.

CHC chief executive Stuart Ropke said: ‘There is huge potential for housing associations and others to not just build more housing, but build the right housing in the right places for the people of Wales now and for many years to come. The additional funding today is a really welcome step in the right direction, but there is more to be done.’

After the Draft Budget, CHC and Cymorth Cymru criticised a continuing freeze in Housing Support Grant, warning that an increase in line with inflation was needed to stop services collapsing and to pay a fair wage to frontline workers.

The Final Budget documents detail an extra £5 million allocated to the Homelessness Support and Prevention budget line.

Stuart Ropke said: ‘This is a welcome increase. We will continue to work with Welsh Government to ensure that as much additional funding as possible is allocated to the Housing Support Grant.

‘We were clear in the run up to this announcement that if we didn’t see an enhanced funding settlement for the Housing Support Grant, there would be insufficient funding for frontline workers to be paid fairly and we would likely lose services at a time they have never been more needed.

‘Homelessness and housing support services need a sustainable multi-year funding settlement that ensures these vital services and their dedicated staff are able to continue to deliver their life-changing work.’

Matt Dicks, national director of CIH Cymru, said: ‘We welcome the additional capital funding of £5 million to support the development of 20,000 new homes at social rent, taking the total annual spend for 2024/25 to £370 million. Monies that are crucial to helping increasing supply of homes central to ending the housing and homelessness crisis.

‘Yet it is not enough to just build new homes we also need to ensure the most vulnerable within our communities can access the right support in the right place in order to maintain their tenancies. This is also a key part of preventing homelessness in Wales ensuring that when homelessness does occur it is rare, brief and unrepeated. We therefore welcome the additional £5 million revenue funding for prevention and support as part of the wider aim to end homelessness in Wales.’

However, CIH Cymru argued that the additional £5 million for homelessness prevention was in reality worth an additional £2 million, since in 2023/24 Welsh Government proposed a £5 million increase to the homelessness prevention and support budget for 2024/25 that was then reduced to a £2 million increase in the 2024/25 draft budget.

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