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Editorial – Making history

Making history

This issue of WHQ marks both a historic moment for Welsh housing and a new moment in the debate about the future of Wales within the UK.

The historic moment is of course the passing of the first Welsh Housing Act since the Assembly gained the power to make primary legislation. The cover of this issue shows the sealing ceremony attended by first minister Carwyn Jones and Carl Sargeant. The former housing and regeneration minister was responsible for the Act and he explains how it will make a difference to people’s lives. That’s followed by a series of features on different aspects of implementation including homelessness, prison leavers, private renting and the interaction between the Act and tenancy reform.

The debate for the future is the one that has followed the momentous referendum on Scottish independence, which took place the day after the sealing ceremony for the Act. After an extraordinary campaign and huge turnout, the victory for the No campaign was attributed at least in part to ‘the vow’ made by the three main UK parties to transfer more powers to Holyrood. Our feature on the devolution debate looks at what might happen in Scotland, Wales and the rest of the UK and the implications for housing.

The range of subjects covered in other features in this issue is testament to the fundamental importance of housing in a whole range of different areas. Cathy Davies, who retired as chief executive of Hafan Cymru in June, has written what she calls the memoirs of a refuge ‘madam’, personal reflections on the past, present and future of the domestic abuse sector in Wales.

Dr Steve Sharples looks behind the assumptions that are made about ‘tenant empowerment’ and asks what the term really means for relations between tenants and landlords.

In the wake of the Housing Act, Jennie Bibbings of Shelter Cymru and Douglas Haig of the Residential Landlords Association debate the future of the private rented sector in Wales and try to find some common ground. John Harper argues that Welsh housing policy needs to improve on its current fragmented evidence base.

Ceri Breeze and new WHQ advisory board chair Antonia Forte look at the findings of a new report on the links between housing and mental health. That also introduces a new regular WHQ update on the work of the Effective Services for Vulnerable Groups Delivery Board.

And no recent issue of WHQ would be complete without something on welfare reform. Alun Thomas looks at the impact of the UK Government’s policies in Wales so far while Duncan Forbes argues that the bedroom tax is the biggest failure of all and should be repealed.

All of that plus more from all our regular contributors make up an Autumn issue that I hope you’ll find interesting.

Jules Birch

Editor, WHQ 

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