Homes for Wales campaign relaunched for General Election
The Homes for Wales coalition has relaunched its campaign to raise awareness of the housing crisis in Wales ahead of June’s General Election.
Following a successful campaign during the 2016 Assembly Election to raise devolved housing issues up the political agenda, the Homes for Wales General Election 2017 campaign will focus on two issues central to Welsh tenants and landlords that are controlled from Westminster.
The Homes for Wales coalition is calling on the next UK Government to:
- support a welfare system that ensures everyone can access an affordable home
- support the construction industry so it can access the materials and labour it needs to build affordable homes
These issues are a priority for the coalition because of the ongoing transition to Universal Credit from six other benefits, including Housing Benefit, and the upcoming Local Housing Allowance cap on Housing Benefit. The LHA cap is predicted to cause many social housing tenants severe financial problems as, once introduced, the amount of benefit that some tenants receive will not be enough to cover their rent. The coalition is also keen to ensure that the impact of Brexit on the construction sector in Wales is highlighted and potential solutions identified at an early stage.
Stuart Ropke, Chief Executive of Community Housing Cymru, said: “Welfare reform is already having a disproportionate effect on Welsh tenants, and we must ensure that our new MPs are fully aware of the impact that these changes are having across Welsh communities. There are more tenants in rent arrears than ever before with the introduction of Universal Credit, and delays in payments are leading to an increase in hardship. In addition, when the Local Housing Allowance cap on Housing Benefit comes into effect in April 2019, we foresee many people being unable to pay their rent if changes are not made to reflect the reality of Welsh rent levels.”
Alongside the impact of welfare reform, Brexit negotiations will also have a significant impact on the construction sector in Wales.
Stuart notes: “We rely on trading with the EU for building materials, and also on the European people within the construction industry who work in Wales.
“EU nationals make up 7% of the construction workforce in Wales and, with work due to begin on a number of large infrastructure projects in the coming years, there will be 20,000 new jobs created in the industry. Uncertainty over the free movement of people in any Brexit deal and the potential of tariffs on imports – coupled with rising inflation and a falling pound – represent a real concern.
“We cannot afford for the Welsh Government’s commitment to build 20,000 affordable homes in Wales to be adversely affected by decisions made in Westminster.”
In 2016, the Homes for Wales campaign was successful in achieving cross-party support from all parties elected to the Assembly. As a result, a Housing Supply Pact was signed between Community Housing Cymru, Welsh Government and the Welsh Local Government Association which included a target of 20,000 affordable homes to be built by 2021 (including 13,500 by housing associations); the creation of up to 12,500 training and employment opportunities; and skills development for 25,000 tenants.
The Homes for Wales General Election campaign will be launched at the hustings event on 23 May at St David’s Hotel, Cardiff Bay.
Homes for Wales coalition partners this year include: Residential Landlords’ Association (RLA), Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Cymru, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), Federation of Master Builders, and the Home Builders Federation.