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Regulation update

Our regular update from Welsh Government introduces the new Housing Strategy and Regulation Division.

Over the summer, the Welsh Government’s Housing and Regeneration Directorate (H&R) leadership team established a new Housing Strategy and Regulation Division to lead on cross-cutting strategy and support functions across the directorate as well as the regulation of registered social landlords (RSLs). The new division sits alongside Homes and Places, Housing Policy, Housing Safety Decarbonisation & Standards and Land and reflects a growing workload for Housing and Regeneration.

It will help grow the business and strategic support functions and develop data and research capacity across the full range of housing and regeneration functions as well as responding to cross cutting issues and legislative requirements. Additionally, by locating the regulation function in the new division, we have also ensured clear separation of the regulation from wider housing policy, operational grant and funding decisions.

The change also reflects the importance and priority of planned developments for the regulation function. We are working to increase our capacity and capabilities for regulatory oversight, including more face-to-face time with RSLs. We will also be commencing work to review the regulation assessment model which was originally developed prior to the pandemic. This will ensure the model is fit for purpose, responding to the challenges of the changed economic and operating environments over the last few years which mean every RSL is faced with making difficult decisions to manage its resources effectively and continue to provide good outcomes for tenants and communities.

We are aiming to pilot the new assessment model early in the 2024/25 financial year and will be following our established co-production model, working with the sector, as we carry out the review.

Other key changes coming up include the recruitment of an independent chair and a changed role for the Regulatory Advisory Group (RAG). RAG members are stakeholder representatives and will focus on advising on the development of regulation policy and strategy going forward. The minister for climate change has also agreed the recruitment of a new Independent Assurance Panel which has a remit to provide an independent view on the operational implementation of regulation policy, particularly on the proportionality and consistency of regulatory judgements and any regulatory action or enforcement. The separation of regulation policy and operations in this way will provide additional and very transparent assurance on the effectiveness of regulation in Wales.

Other functions within the new division include legislation and housing strategy. The legislation team maintains an overview of cross cutting housing legislation and has been responsible for the implementation of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 and is currently working with the UK Government on leasehold and freehold reform legislation. In addition to housing legislation, this team is where the Government Business function sits. Government business is, in many ways, the engine room of H&R, co-ordinating ministerial correspondence, briefings, advice and other cross-directorate and corporate work.

The division is also taking a lead role in developing our use of data and research to underpin and monitor policy development and impact. The Rent Officers Wales services forms part of this work, undertaking a range of statutory functions in relation to the setting of Local Housing Allowance (LHA), housing benefit valuations, the registration of Fair Rent tenancies and administration of the redemption of rent charges.

Last but not least, the Housing Strategy, Anti-Racism and Equality team is responsible for the department’s strategic planning and co-ordination of the implementation of the Anti-Racist Wales action plan which is a key Programme for Government commitment as well as other equality plans relating to housing in Wales.


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