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27 May 2015

CHC comments on Queen's Speech

Stuart Ropke, Group Chief Executive of Community Housing Cymru, has commented on the Queen’s Speech which took place earlier today.

In response to a further £12bn of cuts to welfare and further reductions to the benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000, Stuart said: “Welsh housing associations and their tenants continue to be affected by UK Government policies on welfare. Capping the amount of housing benefit a person receives will not help reduce the welfare bill. It simply targets those who can least afford it and pushes them further into poverty. Families will now face the stark choice of cutting back on essentials such as food and heating or having to move long distances away from their current communities to find a home they can afford. In many parts of Wales, families will not be able to pay high private rents because of the cap and there will be more demand than ever for affordable housing, particularly in Cardiff where the majority of the people affected by the benefit cap live.”

“The UK Government’s decision to extend the Right To Buy to housing association homes in England is hugely disappointing. Fortunately housing is a devolved issue in Wales, and any decision about the Right to Buy here will be made by the Welsh Government. They have recently consulted on the proposal of scrapping the Right to Buy, and the Legislative Competence Order 2009 already allows Welsh Ministers to allow councils to refuse Right to Buy requests in areas where there is high demand for affordable housing.

Since Right to Buy legislation was introduced in 1980, 138,548 homes have been sold off and lost to the social housing sector in Wales. This has had a big impact on the supply of good quality affordable housing in Wales, where there is already a housing supply crisis. It is estimated that an additional 14,200 homes per annum are needed in Wales between now and 2026 if we are to combat this supply crisis, and selling off housing association homes is not the answer. Housing associations in Wales could be impacted if funders revise their view of our sector’s robustness in light of developments in England and this could lead to an increase in the cost of finance for our members.”

Responding to the Wales Bill announcement, Stuart added: “We welcome the news that the UK Government will create a Wales Bill to bring forward legislation to secure a strong and lasting constitutional settlement for Wales. As the poorest nation in the UK, where GDP remains lowers than anywhere else, we will continue to add our voice to the campaign for our fair share of public funding.”