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30 March 2016

Investing in housing makes business sense, according to leading Welsh industry figures

Some of Wales’ leading business figures have given their backing to the Homes for Wales campaign.

A variety of top Welsh business leaders, including Federation of Small Businesses Wales, CBI Cymru, Welsh ICE, Pro Steel Engineering and Learning and Work Institute Wales, have added their voice to the Homes for Wales campaign via social media to support the need for continued investment in housing.

Homes for Wales’ main aim is to highlight that housing needs to be a key political issue ahead of May’s National Assembly for Wales elections. The campaign calls on the next Welsh Government to publish an ambitious plan for housing as part of the new Programme for Government which sets out how they will end the housing crisis in Wales.

Community Housing Cymru (CHC) Chief Executive and Homes for Wales spokesperson, Stuart Ropke, said: “Momentum for the Homes for Wales campaign has continued following our rally in Cardiff last month, which highlighted the consequences of the Welsh housing crisis on people and businesses around the country. We are delighted that Welsh industry leaders have given their backing to Homes for Wales. Building homes makes business sense. Investing in housing creates jobs and training and apprenticeship opportunities, as well as regenerating communities and improving people’s lives. Investment in housing creates a ripple effect in the local and national economy, and the housing sector provides a crucial economic stimulus to Wales.

CBI Cymru Director and Homes for Wales supporter, Emma Watkins, said: “For too many years, we’ve not been building the new homes Wales needs. This has led to rising prices, undermining our economic competitiveness and Wales’ reputation as a destination for investment. From businesses to charities, and from Wales to Westminster, there is a clear consensus that we need to be building more homes to satisfy demand, yet we are still not building enough to meet our needs. Bold action from across the political spectrum is required to shift the dial and get Wales building.”

Looking at the housing association sector specifically, Mr Ropke said: “Last year alone, the housing association sector directly pumped £1.1bn into the economy. For every £1 spent, 80 pence was retained in the Welsh economy. The sector’s total contribution to the Welsh economy in 2015, directly and indirectly, amounted to £2bn which includes construction, maintenance, regeneration, employment, suppliers’ goods and services, and much more. Our sector is also a major employer in Wales – there are almost 9,000 full time equivalent jobs in Welsh housing and, for every one job, another 1.5 are supported elsewhere in the Welsh economy.”

Stuart Ropke added: “The Welsh housing crisis is not about just houses – it’s about homes, it’s about people, it’s about communities. We’ve built 9,108 affordable new homes since 2011; however, to meet current demand in Wales, 12,000 new homes are needed each year. We know that we alone cannot solve the housing crisis which is why the Homes for Wales coalition has been formed to speak with one voice and to secure partnerships with other key sectors such as industry.”

Backing from the business world for the Homes for Wales campaign comes in addition to the thousands who have supported in person at a rally in Cardiff earlier this month, online and via social media. Homes for Wales’ celebrity supporters include actor Michael Sheen, Welsh entertainer Max Boyce, comedian Rhod Gilbert, actor and producer Jonny Owen and Bafta-winning actress Vicky McClure. Other supporting organisations include the Royal College of Nursing, the Church in Wales and Youth Cymru.

The Homes for Wales campaign is led by a coalition of eight cross-tenure organisations - Community Housing Cymru (CHC), Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru, Welsh Tenants, Home Builders Federation, Residential Landlords Association, Royal Town Planning Institute, Care & Repair Cymru and Shelter Cymru.