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12 November 2014

New study shows public backing for more social housing

As the country’s housing shortage grows, the majority of British people would support more housing association and council homes being built in their local area, new research reveals today.

Although almost 2,000 new affordable homes were built in Wales last year, there is a backlog of unmet housing need in Wales. As the shortage of affordable homes grows, the new research suggests that there is public support for building the homes that are needed.

The research by Ipsos MORI, launched today to mark national #HousingDay, shows that:
• Over half (58 per cent) of the British public support more social housing being built in their local area.
• 80 per cent of British people say social housing should be available for people who can’t afford the cost of private renting as well as being a safety net for the most vulnerable.
• More than two out of three British people (67 per cent) say that social housing plays an important role in tackling poverty in Britain.

As social housing, which is set at lower rents, continues to be in short supply more people are now living in more expensive private lets at the same time as wages are flatlining. However, the research findings show that an overwhelming majority of people don’t want social housing to become only a safety net for the most vulnerable, but to remain an option for anyone on lower incomes who can’t afford private rents.

Community Housing Cymru, one of the organisations backing #HousingDay, highlights that housing associations in Wales already provide affordable homes and services to almost ten percent of the Welsh Population.

Stuart Ropke, Group Chief Executive of Community Housing Cymru said: “Everyone needs a decent home they can afford to live in and we should be proud of our country’s social housing that provides just that for thousands of people in Wales.

“We recently revealed that our members - Welsh Housing Associations, built almost 2,000 new affordable homes in 2013/14. But we are faced with a housing crisis that can only be solved by having the right homes in the right places at a price that people can actually afford.

In addition to bricks and mortar, investing in affordable housing also acts as an economic stimulus. Last year our members directly spent almost £1bn in the economy with eighty percent of that retained in Wales. We’ll be working with partners across the UK in the run up to the UK Elections and calling on all political parties for the Welsh Assembly elections to invest in more affordable homes and to commit to end the housing crisis within a generation.”

#Housing Day is a national online event to celebrate the positive impact of social housing on thousands of people across the UK. To find out more and get involved follow #HousingDay on twitter.

Jemma’s story
Jemma Bere is a social housing tenant and tenant board member of Wales & West Housing. She works for CREW Regeneration Wales, part of the Community Housing Cymru Group.

In 2001, her mother died in a car accident whilst in Andalucia, Spain. After the funeral in the UK, her brother and sister returned to Spain with their father where they began school. However, their father turned to drink and eventually became unable to care for them and in 2005, Jemma was told that the children had been taken into the care of social services in Almeria. She went to Spain immediately to see them but there was very little she could do. After a couple of months, she received a phone call from the Spanish authorities who told her that unless someone in the family could take on the children, they would have to be put into foster care. They could give her no guarantees that they would be kept together or that she could visit them. Jemma made the decision right there that she would look after them. She was 24 and had just graduated from university.

It took her two years to navigate the bureaucracy and go through the adoption process to get the children to the UK but she was determined and a few key friends and organisations took sympathy to her cause. On the 15th July 2008, she brought the children back to the UK and they were reunited with their nan and brother who they hadn't seen in 7 years. She had no house and no capital, just the conviction that it was the best decision she had ever made. They were given emergency housing at first but were offered a permanent house by Wales & West Housing after a couple of months. Jemma said: “I can't describe the feeling of security that that brought to us. Used to being shuffled around, the children only believed that they were here to stay when we got the house and the change in them from that point was amazing to see.”

The children spoke little English at first and they lived on benefits whilst they were finding their feet. The rarity of the situation made the application process difficult and they lived on £90 a week child tax credit for the initial 6 months. Jemma learnt to make everything from scratch, even shampoo! It was a hard time but the safety nets afforded to them through social housing and welfare gave them enough security to start to build a life together.

Jemma said: “I'm very proud to be living in social housing and a tenant board member of my housing association, I am delighted at the opportunity to give back and help to make a difference in the sector.”

“I'm supporting housing day because it offered me a lifeline when I thought I had none, I don't want to think where the children and I would have been without the opportunity for an affordable home. As a social housing tenant, I know my rent money goes toward others in need and providing them with the opportunity to build their lives just like it did with me.”

For more information and interviews please contact Community Housing Cymru’s media team on team: 02920 67 4821.

• Ipsos MORI conducted 1,997 interviews face-to-face in-home with GB adults aged 16+ between 24th October and 2nd November 2014 on behalf of a consortium of housing associations and including the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Data are weighted to reflect the GB adult population. Full details are available at www.ipsos-mori.com 5% of respondents were from Wales
• Respondents were asked a number of questions about social renting/housing described as renting from a local council or housing association.
• Social housing provides homes that are more affordable for ordinary working families as well as support for older people and people with disabilities. Beyond housing they also help thousands of people improve their health, skills and job opportunities.

Supporters of #HousingDay research include: Community Housing Cymru, Cynon Taf Community Housing, Monmouthshire Housing, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Placeshapers, Halton Housing Trust, Symphony Housing Group, Regenda, North Wales Housing Association, Yorkshire Housing, Sixtowns Housing, South Liverpool Housing Association, Orbit Group, Progress Housing, Midland Heart, Riverside Housing, Yorkshire Coast Homes, National Federation of Housing, Thames Valley Housing, Places for People, Affinity Sutton, City West Housing, Helena Partnerships, Moat, Knightstone Housing, Northwards Manchester Housing, Staffordshire Housing Association, Accent Group

Community Housing Cymru is the membership body for housing associations in Wales. Our members provide homes and housing services to ten percent of the population. Each year they invest in a diverse range of neighbourhood projects that help create strong, vibrant communities.

For more information, please visit: www.chcymru.org.uk