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Means and ends

As part of WHQ’s What I’d Change about Housing and the Law feature, Tamsin Stirling says we need to pay more attention to implementation. 

For me one of the key things about the law is implementation. There are implementation gaps between the law and policy and again between policy and practice. There are also issues of differential implementation between areas. Given the different needs of areas, this might be expected or even intended, but there are many examples of research or audit processes that have identified unacceptable differences in implementation.

Implementation gaps are perhaps particularly evident with respect to legislation that requires significant culture change. An example is Part 2 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 on which a Public Policy Institute Wales report commented ‘changing the culture of practice is, though achievable, a slower and harder task than developing the legislation’. And reflecting on what should be the most transformative legislation developed in Wales, how far has our thinking about housing at national and local levels fully taken on board the goals and ways of working set out in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015?

Although it was said in a different context, a quote from Laura McAllister talking at this year’s Hay Festival sums up this issue very well. She said ‘we have a great ability to will the end without doing the means …’. If legislation is to have its intended impact, we all need to give more attention to ‘doing the means.’

Tamsin Stirling, freelance housing consultant

If you would like to contribute to Part 2 of this feature, tell WHQ what you would change about the law in relation to housing and why by emailing the editor, Jules Birch, at [email protected]


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