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06 November 2013

Housing sector sets the foundations for a healthier Welsh economy

Independent research shows that, despite austere times, Welsh housing associations are bucking the economic trend and boosting the Welsh economy to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds.

The findings are revealed as part of the latest Welsh Economic Research Unit (WERU) report which focuses on the wider economic impact of the sector in the Welsh economy. At a time when private investment is scarce and public purse strings are being continually stretched, it highlights that housing led regeneration and building and employment opportunities delivered by housing associations play a key role in contributing to the Welsh economy.

The report, commissioned by Community Housing Cymru, reveals that the combined spending of Welsh housing associations in 2012/13 was £1034m, an increase of 8.7 per cent from the previous year.

81 per cent of this spend has been retained in Wales, keeping the Welsh pound local and helping to boost the Welsh economy by £840m.

Almost 30 per cent of the overall spend in 2012/13 was on maintaining, repairing and upgrading properties to bring homes up to the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) as set by Welsh Government.

A further £227.5m, almost a quarter, was spent on the construction of new affordable homes.

The WERU report also revealed that an estimated £509m was spent on the regeneration of communities, which might not have otherwise received investment.

WERU figures also indicate that 1,862 additional affordable homes were delivered during 2012/13, 41 per cent without any social housing grant. In 2011, Welsh Government set an affordable housing target of 7,500 for this term of Government. These figures mean that Welsh housing associations have achieved more than 50 per cent of the Welsh Government’s affordable housing target in 40 per cent of the allocated time.

According to the WERU report, the sector’s contribution to employment has also increased. Currently 8,000 people are directly employed by Welsh housing associations and for every direct job provided, almost two other jobs are supported in the Welsh economy. The sector has seen a 142 per cent increase in the number of direct jobs provided over the last six years.

Group Chief Executive of Community Housing Cymru, Nick Bennett, said: “This report further demonstrates the true impact of housing associations on the Welsh economy and shows that our sector is about much more than bricks and mortar – it also acts as an economic stimulus.

“There is no doubt that continued investment from our sector is helping to create solid foundations for a healthier Welsh economy.

“In the past year we have pumped hundreds of millions of pounds into the Welsh economy and are constantly innovative in our thinking to continue to invest for the future in order to play an integral part in the Welsh economy and ultimately the local communities we serve.”

Full Report