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23 January 2024

One big question: what will make the biggest difference to Wales’s social housing sector in 2024?

One big question: what will make the biggest difference to Wales’s social housing sector in 2024?

As we look ahead to what 2024 will bring for social housing in Wales, we spoke with leaders and partners from across the sector, to ask them one big question…

What will make the biggest difference to Wales’s social housing sector in 2024?

Scott Sanders

Scott Sanders, CEO Linc Cymru

“There’s a lot we could talk about here, not least the amount of homes we’ve been bringing back into use to reduce the amount of homelessness that exists in Wales, to make sure that people can have somewhere safe and warm to live and also start to fulfil their ambitions in life.

“That is critical and sits alongside what I am choosing, which is about understanding affordability in its truest sense for the social housing sector and our customers.

“We are reaching a time now where we can rethink the way our rents and service charges work within the business, and that then brings the opportunity to also consider the cost of living in our homes and the cost of utilities.

“We are investing more in new build homes, which are very smart and very efficient, and we are investing heavily in our existing homes to bring them up to a standard which will also reflect that way of living. That means we can reconsider the relationship that sits between affordability and living, and that is a conversation I’m very much looking forward to having with colleagues in the sector, local authorities, Welsh government and many more beyond.

“It’s a time to rethink the way we do things and make sure we can continually invest in our homes at the level we want to. The rent we receive is very important to the amount of investment we can create, but affordable housing needs to live up to its reputation and its name of being truly affordable. That’s what I’m looking forward to seeing change over time.”

Nerys Evans

Nerys Evans, director of public affairs agency Deryn, speaking at CHC’s Annual Conference in November 2023

“What will make the biggest difference is budgets, and unfortunately following the Autumn Statement we are not looking at any increases, hopefully a cash-flat situation.

“But we are expecting the Westminster budget in the new year [2024] and also the Welsh Government budget, so it’s about making sure that the voice of housing associations is heard within those budget decisions, and I think that would have the biggest impact in terms of the work that they do every day for people across our communities.”

Clarissa Corbisiero, deputy chief executive at Community Housing Cymru

Clarissa Corbisiero, deputy chief executive at Community Housing Cymru

“We have big ambitions in Wales and rightly so.

“Not-for-profit housing associations, which house one in 10 of the Welsh population investing in communities up and down Wales, have an important role to play.

“My one big wish for 2024 for housing is a dogged and determined focus on implementation and on making it happen.

“Two things would help with this, firstly in an uncertain world reduce risk wherever you can. We can see the impact that providing certainty over the first few years of record-breaking capital funding for building new social housing has made. It has allowed housing associations to keep building in an incredibly difficult environment, we need the same certainty for the remainder of the Senedd term.

“And secondly, we need a long-term delivery plan which can sit alongside our collective ambitions to increase the energy efficiency of existing social homes.

“Alongside this, in an environment where money is tight, and systems and services are under strain, enabling services must take centre stage - that means prioritising funding for things like the Housing Support Grant, which we know makes such a difference in preventing so many people reaching crisis point.

“And finally, it also means thinking creatively about how we can make sure overstretched planning teams have the resources that they need.”

Steve Richards

We also spoke with political columnist for The Guardian, broadcaster and author Steve Richards at our Annual Conference in November 2023, to get his view on what will make the biggest difference to the UK social housing sector this year.

“It looks as if there will be a change in government in Westminster for the first time in 14 years, and one which is placing a big focus on housing as a generator of economic growth.

“Whether the Labour government, if there is one in Westminster, fulfils that kind of idea we don’t know. But even if it begins to do so, it means housing will be a big issue in England - it already is in Wales - but perhaps it will become a bigger one as a Westminster Labour government has no choice but to address the chronic issues around social housing in England.

“One of the potential virtues of devolution is that there is an interconnection between what each different part of the United Kingdom is doing, so perhaps a change of government in Westminster will have wider ripples in terms of the way housing is perceived across the UK.”