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Issue 125: Spring 2022

Crisis after crisis

The last two years have seen so many crises that it sometimes feels as though we are living through a permacrisis. The original theme for this Spring issue of WHQ was a reflection on what we’ve experienced since the first Covid-19 lockdown but soaring energy prices and the war on Ukraine demanded a rethink. So for the first time this issue has not one, but two, main themes.

According to Welsh Government estimates released just before we went to press, this month’s increase in the energy price cap means that up to 45 per cent of households in Wales are now in fuel poverty (spending more than 10 per cent of their income on keeping warm). Ben Saltmarsh reflects on that and asks what governments can do about it.

Victoria Winckler puts energy prices in the context of the wider cost of living crisis. Rapidly rising prices plus years of restrictions on benefits will inevitably lead to more intense poverty for low-income households, she says, but housing providers can still step in and help. We also hear from two social landlords who are doing exactly that.

Think back to April 2020 and that first lockdown and the pandemic seems to have changed everything about the way we live and work. But what has really changed and what lessons have we learned along the way?

Chris Bolton asks what board members can do in a post-Covid world, while Gareth Leech and Rowjee Kaur write about the impact on young housing professionals. We also hear from three housing associations about how they’ve changed the way they work and Ewan Hilton reflects on the deeper lessons from the pandemic.

The war in Ukraine has put even Covid and the cost of living into perspective. Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK have volunteered to house refugees from the conflict but Westminster and Whitehall bureaucracy is still holding things up. Romy Wood of Housing Justice Cymru looks at some issues with Homes for Ukraine and hopes it will make existing hosting projects less of an uphill struggle.

And lurking not far in the background is a climate crisis that will demand the retrofitting of hundreds of thousands of homes. Duncan Forbes draws on lessons from the Welsh Housing Quality Standard programme for tenant engagement in the work to come.

With all of that, plus all our regular features, TAI is back this month too. You’ll find contributions from many of the speakers in this issue and we look forward to seeing you in Swansea.

Jules Birch, editor, WHQ

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