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Issue 120: January 2021

With fresh lockdown restrictions but vaccinations on the way, it’s hard to look much beyond the Covid-19 pandemic but this Winter issue of WHQ has a go.

Our theme this time is the private rented sector and we mark the important anniversary of five years since the creation of Rent Smart Wales as the first registration scheme of its kind in the UK.  Bethan Jones tells us about the lessons it’s learned and how re-registration is going.

The feature also reflects the concerns of tenants and landlords as Rob Simkins highlights alarming trends in case work on illegal evictions and harassment and Calum Davies calls for amendments to possession reform legislation. We also preview the findings from an international evidence review on the contentious issue of rent control by the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence.

We also look forward to the Senedd elections scheduled for May (state of the pandemic permitting), and hear from the four main parties on what their priorities will be for housing in the new Welsh Parliament.

Covid-19 may not be the overwhelming focus this time in the way that it was last year but its continuing effects are a thread running through the rest of this issue.

We focus once again on homelessness, as Sophie Boobis compares the experiences of frontline services and local authorities across Britain during the pandemic and Bill Rowlands looks at the pressures experienced by housing staff. We also look at the impact on sheltered and retirement housing and at work to tackle digital inclusion, social isolation and loneliness.

Covid will obviously be the main focus for whoever does form the next Welsh Government but it will also have to face up to the longer-term issue of relations between Wales and the rest of the UK. Charles Whitmore looks at the implications of the Internal Market Act and concerns that it could undermine decisions made on housing in Wales.

Another priority will be housing decarbonisation. Andy Sutton explains why the Optimised Retrofit Programme is a far more intelligent approach than England’s Green Homes Grants.

Turning to new homes, we hear from Gayna Jones on the Innovative Housing Programme as it goes into its fourth year and Bonnie Navarra about the potential of Faith in Affordable Housing, the partnership between faith groups and housing providers.

All this plus all our regular features make for another busy issue of WHQ. Here’s wishing a happy, safe and hopefully brighter 2021 to all.

Jules Birch



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