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06 November 2014

Independent report highlights Welsh HA sector's wider benefits as economic impact hits £2bn

Welsh housing associations contributed an estimated £2bn to the economy in 2013/14, according to an independent report by the Welsh Economy Research Unit at Cardiff University.

The report, commissioned by Community Housing Cymru (CHC), the membership body for housing associations in Wales, will be launched at their Annual Conference in Cardiff today. The report assesses the wider economic benefits provided by the sector in Wales and demonstrates their ‘more than housing’ remit.

Now in its seventh year, the report indicates that the sector provided 1,850 new affordable homes in 2013/14 and is on target to meet Welsh Government’s revised target of 10,000 affordable homes for this term of Government.

Housing associations contributed £1027m to the economy in 2013/14; 26% of this on direct labour costs, 21% on construction and 29% on maintenance, repair and upgrading homes. Of the £1027m directly spent, 80% was retained in Wales. Added to indirect transactions between different sectors of the economy, the combined direct and indirect economic impacts total almost £2bn. Since the beginning of the report series, an estimated £5.66bn has been directly spent by Welsh housing associations in Wales.

Stuart Ropke, Community Housing Cymru Group Chief Executive commented: “Against a backdrop of austerity, cuts to public expenditure and the challenges brought about by welfare reform, our sector has continued to invest heavily in the services for tenants and communities and our economic impact continues to grow.”

As a major employer in the Welsh economy there has been a significant increase in the sector on employment in Wales, with CHC members directly employing 8,400 full time equivalents in 2013/14 compared to 3,300 in 2008. For every one full time person employed within the sector, one and a half other jobs are supported within the Welsh economy in other sectors.

Regeneration has also been a key focus for the sector and millions of pounds (£514m) was spent on activities with a regeneration focus in 2013/14.

Ropke continued: “Our members provide far more than housing. This year is the first year we’ve had case studies included in the report highlighting the true breadth of activities our members are committed to. You don’t necessarily have to be in direct receipt of the services and facilities provided to feel the impact.”

Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Lesley Griffiths, who has responsibility for housing, said: “Housing Associations are critical to increasing affordable housing across Wales, as recent official statistics on progress towards our 10,000 affordable homes target clearly demonstrate.However, they provide far more than simply housing and the scale of their impact is huge. The sector makes a significant contribution to economic growth and jobs, provides training and apprentice opportunities, helps regenerate communities so they are vibrant places to live, and has a key role in tackling poverty.”

One of the case studies included in the report is The Lighthouse Project, run by Taff Housing Association, which plays a key role in helping the NHS to relieve pressure on bed shortages in hospitals. One of The Lighthouse Project’s support workers is permanently based with a Hospital Discharge Team at The Royal Gwent Hospital, helping find accommodation for those that are well enough to leave hospital but not able to return home. Issues may range from the threat of homelessness, welfare benefits not being in place or simply that their present housing is unsuitable.

John Keegan, Chair of CHC added: “This is a great example of how our sector increasingly plays a supporting role with the NHS so that medical resources can be focused more effectively, and demonstrates the sheer breadth of activities our member organisations are involved in."

The full report is available to download here.