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Policy update



Universal Credit uplift to be scrapped

The Westminster government confirmed that the temporary £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit will end at the same time as the furlough scheme at the end of September.

The move came despite warnings that it will cause serious hardship and poverty and despite a plea for a rethink in a joint letter from the last six Conservative work and pensions secretaries.

Ministers argue that the uplift will no longer be needed once lockdown restrictions have been completely removed and prime minister Boris Johnson said that ‘the best way forward is to get people into higher wage, higher skilled jobs’.

However, campaigners pointed out that 2.2m out of 6m claimants are in work while a further 1.6m are not required to work because of ill-health or having a child under 1.

Self-employed claimants of Universal Credit also face a cut in their payments under plans to reimpose the Minimum Income Floor from the start of August.


Leaseholders get longer to sue over fire safety

Leaseholders facing huge bills for fire safety works will get more time to sue builders under plans announced by housing secretary Robert Jenrick.

The Building Safety Bill will extend the period during which residents can seek compensation for substandard work from six to 15 years.

The changes will apply retrospectively. This means that residents of a building completed in 2010 would be able to bring proceedings against the developer until 2025.

However, campaigners said that suing developers was not the solution as leaseholders do not have the money to take legal action and are facing bills now, while many of the problems pre-dated 2010.

The End Our Cladding Scandal group said: ‘Leaseholders are going bankrupt now due to interim fire safety measures, and all of the many other non-cladding issues. It’s tiresome to continually hear Robert Jenrick avoid the full scale of the building safety crisis.’

The Bill also seeks to establish a Building Safety Regulator for high-rise residential homes and simplify the existing system so that there is a ‘golden thread’ of information stored and updated through a building’s lifetime.

Robert Jenrick said: ‘The new building safety regime will be a proportionate one, ensuring those buildings requiring remediation are brought to an acceptable standard of safety swiftly, and reassuring the vast majority of residents and leaseholders in those buildings that their homes are safe.’


Plan to license short-term lets

The Scottish Government launched a consultation on a licensing scheme for short-term lets.

Social justice secretary Shona Robison published a draft licensing order ahead of laying final legislation in September and stakeholders now have until mid-August to comment.

The minister said that regulation of short-term lets was vital to balance the needs of communities with wider economic and tourism interests and that people were finding it harder to find homes in areas including tourism hotspots.

She went on: ‘By allowing local authorities appropriate regulatory powers through a licensing scheme, we can ensure that short term lets are safe and address issues faced by local residents and communities.

‘It will allow local authorities to understand more fully what is happening in their areas and assist with the effective handling of complaints.’


Bill aims to protect tenants

Private renters will get improved protections under a Private Tenancies Bill proposed in the Assembly.

The Bill includes mandatory requirements for landlords to provide smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and carry out electrical checks and would  set limits on tenancy deposit amounts, extend the notice to quit period, and restrict rent increases.

Communities minister Deirdre Hargey said: ‘I am putting the needs of tenants at the heart of my approach. Private renters should have access to a good quality, affordable homes with peace of mind over the length and conditions of their rental contract. There needs to be improved health and safety measures to keep people and families safe. I want to see restrictions in rent increases and I want to extend the notice to quit meaning we protect tenants when it comes to evictions.

‘I’m committed to making our housing system better for people and families. The housing market has changed dramatically over the past few decades, so our legislation needs to keep up.’


Climate change at heart of Programme for Government

First minister Mark Drakeford promised ‘a stronger, greener and fairer Wales’ in a new Programme for Government launched in June.

The statement highlighted the creation of a new ‘super-ministry’ bringing together the big policy areas to help Wales reach its legally binding target of reaching Net Zero by 2050.

For the first time, it says, transport, planning, housing and energy are brought together, with the environment, to tackle the climate and nature emergencies, making sure climate change is firmly on the agenda for every public service and private sector business.

The programme features key housing pledges including 20,000 new low-carbon social homes for rent and improved building safety to make people feel safe in their homes.

It also includes a Welsh language Community Housing Plan, reform of homelessness services to focus on prevention and rapid rehousing, support for co-operative and community-led initiatives, decarbonisation through retrofit and the creation of a timber-based industrial strategy.

Wider pledges include paying care workers the real living wage, seeking a 30 per cent target for working remotely, a new 10-year Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan for a zero carbon economy, a basic income pilot, council tax reform and possible local rates of Land Transaction Tax.

The Climate Change ministry will also advance legislation to enact the recommendations of the Law Commission on leasehold reform and ‘develop a national scheme restricting rent to local housing allowance levels for families and young people who are homeless or who are at risk of homelessness’.

Matt Dicks, national director of CIH Cymru, said: ‘We strongly welcome a focus on protecting the environment and off-setting the negative impact of climate change on our communities and the lives of future generations. The 20,000 low carbon social housing target is ambitious and will test the ability of the sector to deliver at that scale, and makes it even more important to scale-up innovation, grow supply chains and develop the right skills in the workforce.’

Stuart Ropke, chief executive at Community Housing Cymru, said: ‘We are pleased to see Welsh Government reflecting many of the key messages of our ‘Home’ manifesto in their Programme for Government for the next five years, and have clearly listened to the important contribution that good quality, affordable homes can make to Wales’ social, economic and green recovery. It is vital that we make swift progress on determining the detail and how we will collectively achieve the welcome ambitions that have been set out.’

Action pledged on second homes

Climate change minister Julie James set out an ‘ambitious three-pronged approach’ to address the impact of second home ownership on communities in Wales in the Senedd.

That followed a visit to St David’s in West Wales on Monday, where she met members of the local community, Pembrokeshire Council and the Community Land Trust to hear how they have been working together to use money raised from the existing council tax levy on second homes to build 18 new affordable homes for local people.

The new plan features a three-pronged approach focussing on:

  • Support – addressing affordabilityand availability of housing,
  • Regulation – covering planning law and the introduction of a statutory registration scheme for holiday accommodation
  • Tax – using national and local taxation systems to ensure second home owners make a fair and effective contribution to the communities in which they buy.

There will also be a pilot area in Wales – to be decided over the summer – where these new measures will be trialled and evaluated before being considered for wider rollout.

Other supporting actions, including the work on a registration scheme for all holiday accommodation and a consultation on changes to local taxes to manage the impact of second homes and self-catered accommodation, will also begin over the summer.

A Welsh Language Community Housing Plan, to protect the particular interests of Welsh language communities, will be published for consultation in the autumn.

Last year, Wales became the only country in the UK to give local authorities the power to charge 100 per cent council tax increase on second homes.

Grant scheme for tenants in pandemic arrears

Welsh Government launched a new £10 million grant scheme to help people in private rented accommodation who are struggling to pay their rent because of the pandemic.

The Tenancy Hardship Grant is designed to support people who fell behind on their rent by more than eight weeks between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2021 and is designed to help people stay in their homes and prevent them losing their tenancies.

The move came as the eviction ban ended in Wales at the end of June. A six-month notice period for evictions has been extended to the end of September.

The grant, administered by local authorities, is open to people who are not receiving housing-related benefits. It replaces the Tenancy Saver Loan, which was introduced in December 2020. Anyone who received a loan will have that loan converted to a grant.

People who are eligible could register their interest with their local authority immediately and grants were being processed from mid-July.

Climate change minister Julie James said: ‘Throughout the pandemic, we have taken unprecedented steps to tackle homelessness and support people to remain in their homes.

‘The new Tenancy Hardship Grant is the latest in this range of measures and will help people in privately rented homes who have fallen behind on their rent because of the pandemic.’


Survey shows scale of ‘housing emergency’

One in three people (34 per cent) in Wales have been impacted by the housing emergency, says new research conducted on behalf of Shelter Cymru.

The research shows that over a million children and adults in Wales are living in unsafe or unaffordable housing. This includes everything from families forced to choose between paying rent or mortgage payments and buying food, to people living in homes riddled with damp, mould and disrepair.

Shelter Cymru says the shocking new figures show the scale of the challenge facing the Welsh Government why good homes must be front and centre of its commitment to build back better and fairer in the wake of the pandemic.

According to the research:

  • Almost 1 in 10 people (9 per cent)- equivalent to an estimated over a quarter of a million people (283, 000) – have had to cut spending on household essentials like food or heating in order to afford rent or mortgage payments.
  • 1 in six people (16 per cent) – equivalent to 504, 000 – say they cannot keep their home warm in winter.
  • Over 1 in 10 (13 per cent) – 409,000 – are living in homes that are not structurally sound or have hazards such as faulty wiring or fire risks.
  • Just over 1 in 4 people (26 per cent) –819,000 – are living in homes with significant damp, mould or condensation problems.
  • 1 in 10 people –315,000 – say their current housing situation is harming their mental health, or their family’s mental health.

At the same time, an estimated  75,000 (3 per cent) of adults said they had experienced discrimination when they tried to find their current home and felt it was because of their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or disability.

The stats come from a larger online survey of people across Britain that asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with eight statements which were used to create an overall measure of the housing emergency. These included conditions, affordability, insecurity and discrimination.

Shelter Cymru is calling on politicians and parties to  come together locally and nationally to deliver on their commitments, in light of these findings: building at least 20,000 new, high quality social homes; helping the thousands of people priced out of renting and buying; and ensuring families pushed into homelessness are not trapped in temporary accommodation, and that no-one in Wales is forced to sleep on the streets.

Ruth Power, chief executive of Shelter Cymru, said: ‘Our research shows the scale and seriousness of the housing emergency in Wales and shows that urgent action is needed. For the families foregoing food to keep roofs over their heads; for the renters threatened with eviction because Covid pushed them into unemployment; for the generation of young people for whom buying or renting their own home is an unachievable daydream – Shelter Cymru will always fight for home, and for everyone without one.’

New service offering free interview clothes launched in South Wales

Housing associations have teamed up with a mental health charity and recruitment and design agency to develop a new service offering free interview clothing to support people looking for work.

The Working Wardrobe initiative aims to give people the confidence to take their first step towards a new career by donating free interview and workwear attire in hubs across Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Caerphilly, and the Vale of Glamorgan.

Some 228,000 workers in Wales were employed in sectors shut down by social distancing measures to restrict the spread of Covid-19, and in December 2020, Wales had the highest rise in unemployment in the UK.

To remove the barrier caused by a lack of suitable, quality interview clothing for people looking for work, Working Wardrobe was created in partnership with housing recruitment agency Moxie People, housing associations Newydd Housing, United Welsh and Cardiff Community Housing Association (CCHA); mental health charity Platfform and design agency Bluegg.

People working with Newydd, United Welsh, CCHA and Platfform will be able to use the service to collect and keep work attire, while also receiving support for other aspects of gaining employment.

To help provide this free service, Working Wardrobe is looking for donations. You can help by offering:

  • High quality, new or gently used professional workwear
  • Financial donations that will go towards bespoke items and sizes
  • Retail equipment such as racks, mirrors, steamers or clothing rails

Ryan Hill, customer employment manager at United Welsh said: ‘Our employability team works one-to-one with United Welsh tenants to provide job and training opportunities and employment skills support. The most rewarding part is hearing the good news of someone getting the job they really wanted.

‘The Working Wardrobe initiative will be a fantastic source of additional support and we’re so pleased to be a part of it. We look forward to working together to help people across South Wales feel confident and ready for job interviews.’

To find out more about Working Wardrobe, including how to donate or access the services, visit moxiepeople.com/working-wardrobe.

Denbighshire on target with affordable homes

Denbighshire County Council has met an ambitious target to create more affordable homes in the area. As part of its corporate plan housing priority, the council committed to help create 260 new affordable homes in the county between 2017 and 2022 and to date 394 homes have been delivered.

The homes have been built by private developers and in partnership with registered social landlords with the council managing the Social Housing Grant programme, which has enabled the building of the majority of affordable homes in the county.

The council also sets the priorities for affordable housing in accordance with its corporate plan, housing and homelessness strategy and social housing waiting list.

Between April 2020 and March 2021, 174 additional affordable homes were delivered in the county.

Cllr Tony Thomas, Denbighshire County Council’s lead member for housing and communities, said: ‘Reaching and exceeding this target early is a fantastic achievement for all those involved and really benefits residents here in Denbighshire. I would like to thank everyone for their hard work in reaching this goal.’

The affordable housing is a mix of social housing, intermediate rental, and home ownership through shared equity and rent to own options.

The properties created are spread across the county and include a mix of traditional new build, modern methods of construction and refurbishing existing dwellings.

The council has also pledged to support the development of 1,000 new homes in Denbighshire between 2017 and 2022, including affordable homes and 170 as council houses.

Further developments of affordable homes due to be completed include:

  • Awel Y Dyffryn Extra Care facility in Denbigh, developed by Grŵp Cynefin, providing 74 dwellings for vulnerable and older people, due to be completed in the autumn.
  • Adra affordable development site in Meliden providing 44 homes of mixed tenure due to be completed December 2021 with the first properties now being advertised on Tai Teg, the affordable housing register for applicants.
  • Cartrefi Conwy development site in Rhyl providing 18 social housing apartments due to be completed January 2022
  • Clwyd Alyn development site in Ruthin providing 63 affordable homes of mixed tenure due to be completed May 2023
  • Denbighshire Housing is developing sites at Caradoc Road in Prestatyn and Tan Y Sgybor in Denbigh which will bring forward 26 social rent homes in 2022.

Home-Grown Homes completed

Lowfield Timber has completed a development of four Passivhaus- ceritified homes in the village of Sarn in Powys.

The development project was managed by Powys County Council and followed the principles of the council’s Welsh Government backed Home-Grown Homes project, an initiative designed to encourage the use of locally grown timber to build low-carbon social housing.

‘The Home-Grown Homes project has substantially raised the profile of the timber frame industry in Wales, helping facilitate greater collaboration in the supply chain,’ says Darren Jarman from Lowfield Timber Frames, who worked alongside Pave Aways in the construction of these Passivhaus homes in Sarn.

A key part of the Home-Grown Homes framework is to minimise embodied carbon. In other words, the aim was to reduce all emissions relating to the construction of the building, such as the supply and transport of raw materials. By sourcing Welsh timber, this project not only supported Wales’ timber industry, but also helped increase the eco-friendly aspect of the overall build.

The local timber was used for a twin wall system, building a double stud wall with a central cavity to reduce heat loss. This was then filled with ample amounts of Warmcel insulation, distributed by Welshpool-based PYC, which is made from recycled newspaper with added mineral salts for fire resistance and protection from fungi and insects.

This is just one of many Passivhaus schemes Lowfield Timber Frames has completed in recent years. Other projects include full-scale housing developments and schools, including the new Welshpool Church in Wales School.


  1. State of Wales: Poverty in Wales

Bevan Foundation, June 2021


2. Towards an approach to impact reporting for investments in social and affordable housing

The Good Economy and Big Society Capital, July 2021


3. The right to adequate housing: are we focusing on what matters?

UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence, June 2021


4. Renting during the Covid-19 pandemic in Great Britain: the experiences of private tenants

UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence, May 2021


5. Past, present and future: housing policy and poor-quality housing

Centre for Ageing Better, CaCHE, The Good Home Inquiry, May 2021


6. In this together: a guide for housing officers working remotely

Shelter Cymru, July 2021


7. From hospital to home: planning the discharge journey

Tyfu Tai Cymru, July 2021


8. Home truths: options for reforming residential property taxes in England

Bright Blue, May 2021


9. Closing the digital divide for good

Carnegie UK Trust, UNICEF UK, June 2021


10. The Housing Guarantee

Centre for Policy Studies, April 2021


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