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It’s time to ‘Back Housing’

Matt Kennedy reveals the five key asks in CIH Cymru’s manifesto for the Senedd election.

Next year’s Senedd election will come at a pretty pivotal time when the minds of voters could understandably be dominated by thoughts about the Covid-19 pandemic, its impact on their own lives and that of their friends and families and their perception of how the Welsh Government has handled the outbreak.

Despite the dominance of the pandemic on our daily lives to one extent or another, our public opinion polling published in early December found that almost 20 per cent of respondents identified housing as a key policy priority – ahead of perennial concerns such as crime, education and defence. Add to that three quarters supported the idea of a legal right to housing in Wales.

The fact that housing remains in the forefront of people’s views is unsurprising given how the pandemic has magnified the impact that both not having access to housing, or a home which is suitable or safe can have. And in times where a suitable home is vital, it has starkly shown that for some the home can be a source of safety, reassurance and a boost to wellbeing, whilst for others it can be an uncertain, perilous and stifling.

Our work supporting housing professionals throughout this time has only served to reaffirm the vital role they play in supporting communities across Wales. That is why our manifesto for the Senedd election calls on political parties to commit to five key asks aimed at driving forward improvements across tenures.

At its heart our manifesto is focussed around the right to adequate housing, but the accompanying asks are what we believe needs to happen to help realise that right in practice. We see a workforce strategy for the housing sector as being absolutely vital to both realising the ambitions of ending homelessness, but also increasing housing standards and delivering homes at the cutting edge of sustainability. Aligned with this is a call for a green partnership with the sector to provide both the funding certainty and the strategic approach to skills and value for money needed to ensure public funds and investment in the sector is used to its fullest potential.

To ensure inequalities between tenures become less prominent we’re also talking about greater support for private landlords and a clear strategy for delivering on improvements in the sector.

And rounding that off we’re asking the next Welsh Government to recognise the stigma that still exists linked to social housing and tenants and take forward some tangible suggestions on providing clearer information to educate and inform public perceptions.

Whatever the outcome of the election, what was clear before the pandemic should be unmissable to any candidate, political party and future Welsh Government – backing housing and the work of the sector in a bold, brave and ambitious way will aid the recovery and longer-term prosperity of communities in every part of Wales.

Matt Kennedy is policy and public affairs manager at CIH Cymru

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