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08 October 2013

CHC Group responds to Welsh Draft Budget and Capital Allocations Announcement

The Community Housing Cymru (CHC) Group has welcomed news that Welsh Government is to invest £71.8m in affordable homes in 2014/15 – an increase of 16 per cent from the current financial year.

Nick Bennett, Group Chief Executive said: “We welcome the increase in Social Housing Grant - it shows that Welsh Government recognises the importance of investing in housing, acting as an economic stimulus, creating a boost to the Welsh economy and also has a wider impact in terms of creating jobs and training opportunities.

“Investment in affordable housing can also combat the problems brought about by Welfare Reform such as the 'bedroom tax', and we welcome the additional £5m earmarked for one and two bed homes to mitigate against this.

“Also in light of Welfare Reform, we welcome the protection of Council Tax benefit for another year and believe this will make a big difference to those who need it most.”

Care & Repair Cymru, part of the CHC Group, welcomed the protection given to the Rapid Response Adaptation Programme (RRAP) Capital Grant but were disappointed that the revenue element has been cut by 10 per cent.

Care & Repair Cymru’s Chief Executive Chris Jones said: “We are disappointed that Welsh Government has cut our budget considering the type of preventative service we provide to vulnerable older people, but we will be urgently exploring revenue opportunities under the intermediate care revenue fund. Care & Repair provides an invaluable and vital service that enables older people to remain living independently at home, exactly what the intermediate care fund is meant for.”

Today’s budget announcement also revealed that the Supporting People Programme (SPP) will see continued investment of £134.4m in 2014/15 – a 1.5 per cent reduction from last year. The investment has been addressed by a £5.5m mitigation against planned cuts. CHC and partner organisations worked hard to highlight the benefits of investing in the preventative agenda which offers vital help and support to thousands of people across Wales.


Capital Allocations

Following on from the draft budget announcements yesterday, The Finance Minister outlined further Capital Allocations today as follows:

Proposal 2013-14
(£m)
2014-15
(£m)
2015-16
(£m)
2014-15
(£m)
Arbed ECO. £70m for a new scheme to operate alongside Arbed Phase 2 which will secure further external private investment through the new Energy Company Obligation (ECO). The scheme will continue to improve the energy efficiency of Welsh homes focusing on those in fuel poverty. 0.0 35.0 35.0 70.0
Scheme 2013-14
(£m)
2014-15
(£m)
2015-16
(£m)
2014-15
(£m)
Social Housing Grant. Additional capital of £20m for the Social Housing Grant, building on the extra £20m allocated in the current year, will provide smaller properties to support those individuals and families who have been displaced as a result of reductions in housing benefit. This will contribute to Government commitments to increasing housing supply and tackling poverty by mitigating the impact of Welfare Reform. 0.0 5.0 15.0 20.0
Help to Buy Cymru Shared Equity Scheme*. This new scheme will not only help individuals and families to purchase a new build home but will increase housing supply and provide a significant boost for the construction industry in Wales. Financial transactions funding of £174.5m will contribute to a scheme which will create an investment of over £800m in an estimated 5,000 new build homes. 34.5 69.0 71.0 174.5
Affordable Housing Land Scheme*. Financial transactions funding of £5m for a new pilot scheme will provide loans to local authorities and registered social landlords to acquire land sites in order to accelerate the development of affordable housing schemes. 0.0 5.0 0.0 5.0
Intermediate Care Fund. £15m capital will establish an innovative new fund to support independent living for those who need health, housing and social care. 0.0 15.0 0.0 15.0


Today’s announcement gave us the opportunity to reiterate the messages from yesterday and we issued the following earlier today:

We welcome the announcement of an additional £20m for the Social Housing Grant (SHG) in addition to the capital announced yesterday. It shows that Welsh Government recognise investment in housing as an economic stimulus, creating a boost for the Welsh economy and also a wider impact in terms of creating jobs and training opportunities.
“Investment in affordable housing can also combat the problems brought about by Welfare Reform such as the ‘bedroom tax’, and we welcome that £5m of it has been earmarked for one and two bed homes to mitigate this.

A lack of supply of affordable housing is an issue right across Wales and we welcome news that capital investment has been made available to fund the Help to Buy Scheme. An additional £34.5m next year, increasing the following two years, will mean that the housing market gets moving and will help to increase supply. A long term affordable house building programme will drive down the price of rents for everybody.

“We welcome news of £5m next year for the Affordable Land Scheme (ALS). Affordable land is often a barrier to building affordable homes and the ALS will enable our members to acquire sites for affordable housing which will also help increase supply.

“We are also delighted that £70m will be spent over next year and the year after on Arbed ECO. The Arbed programme has already improved the energy efficiency of thousands of Welsh homes. With one in four households living in fuel poverty, many more people will now get to benefit from this scheme at a time when everyone is feeling the pinch.”

Commenting on the additional funding for the Intermediate Care Fund, Care & Repair Cymru’s Chief Executive, Chris Jones said: “We welcome news of the £50m for an Intermediate Care Fund of which £15m is capital. Care & Repair provide a preventative service to vulnerable older people, and we will be urgently exploring opportunities under this fund.

“Care & Repair provides an invaluable and vital service that brings together health, housing and social care and enables older people to remain living independently at home, which is exactly what the Intermediate Care Fund is meant for.”