Having called for the reintroduction of a survey mirroring the now-defunct Welsh Housing Conditions Survey, we are pleased to see this as a recommendation from the committee.
Overall, Care & Repair are pleased with the findings and recommendations of the Committee included in the report. Although we would have liked to see a little more detail and specifics included in some recommendations to ensure their deliverability, we are glad to see that a number of our written and oral contributions from our Policy Manager, Faye Patton, have been included within the report and have formulated two specific recommendations;
We drew on a number of experiences and studies within our response, and linked access to adequate housing to better health outcomes, socialisation opportunities, community engagement and more. Our specific recommendation of lived experience involvement and engagement was adopted as a specific recommendation, and we emphasised that:
“…this right talks about targeting vulnerable groups, and Care and Repair’s client base is essential in that. We help older people but also four out of five of our clients identify as being disabled. So, having conversations with those people who are living in homes that are already not meeting their needs and then what they need in order to be supported to live safely and independently at home I think is integral.”
This was supported by other stakeholders, including the Welsh Local Government Association. We believe that by Welsh Government having specific conversations with those from underrepresented groups including older people and disabled people, there is an opportunity to hear first-hand some of the housing challenges that they are facing, and also some of the solutions proposed by those that are at the heart of the campaign.
We are also supportive of the Committee’s recognition and the Minister’s response to our direct recommendation for all Local Authorities to commit to creating an accessible housing target. This target would ensure that Local Authorities have a record of the number of accessible homes, and that they are able to work with disabled people and people in need of an accessible home to meet their needs. Within our response we highlighted the concern that only one of out 22 local authorities have a recorded accessible building target, and that ‘Without forward planning and investment based on population need, the Welsh housing stock will be increasingly unfit for purpose for an ageing population with increasingly complex needs.’. This response has fed into Recommendation 6: ‘The Welsh Government should set out its assessment of how the 20,000 new affordable homes it aims to create will contribute to meeting the overall housing need in Wales. This should include an assessment of how the types of homes being provided will address specific areas of need, such as one-bedroom properties.’
We also explicitly called for the reintroduction of a survey mirroring the now-defunct Welsh Housing Conditions Survey. Without Wales-wide cross-tenure data available, it is difficult to understand the housing landscape and provide targeted support. This recommendation was supported by contributions from CIH Cymru, Propertymark and others, and was accepted as one of the ten specific recommendations. This shows it is urgently needed across the sector, and is a recognised gap in being able to realise and enact this right.
Welsh Government Response
The Welsh Government, in responding to the report, have identified a number of ways in which to progress with this work. They acknowledge that ‘It is important that the Welsh Government and the housing sector fully understand the housing needs of people in Wales, in order to ensure that housing solutions are suitable to meet these needs. Better data is needed on the types of homes needed now and in the future…’ and that ‘It is clear from the evidence presented to us, that, in order to be able to deliver a right to adequate housing, the Welsh Government will need to identify housing as one of its main areas for prioritisation. This will require a strategic focus on housing, sufficient resources and commitment from across all government departments, including an understanding of how better housing can bring benefits to other areas, such as better health and education outcomes.’
They have committed to including additional questions on some specificities raised in the Committee responses in the Green Paper consultation, which they have done.
The Minister for Climate Change has subsequently indicated that the proposal for introducing a Right to Adequate Housing is to be taken forward in both Green and White Papers. Currently, Care & Repair are in the process of responding to the Welsh Government consultation on ‘A Call for Evidence on securing a path towards Adequate Housing – including Fair Rents and Affordability’. This is the Green Paper consultation that will be the final stage of written consultation before a White Paper is released in summer 2024. This paper will outline the plans of enacting the Right, and all plans and decisions that have been made as a result of the contributions from stakeholders.
These papers are aimed to ultimately form a Bill that will enshrine the Right in law, and will give greater protection to the people of Wales. This was confirmed by the Minister herself, who stated that, “I think that it’s a fundamental human right that you are adequately housed, and that it’s the mark of a civilised society that we can adequately house our citizens. I don’t think there’s much disagreement with that.”