Home.

“Stay home!” is a phrase we have heard again and again during the pandemic.

Never before have our homes taken such prominence; many of us spent so much time within them and so many aspects of our lives revolved around them.

‘Home’ has never meant more.

Somewhere safe, comfortable and secure to weather the storm of the pandemic. Somewhere adaptable to our changing needs. Somewhere connected to our work, education, public services - and to each other. Every election matters. But this election is about defining Wales’ path out of the challenges that the pandemic has posed to every one of us. Its result has the potential to plot a course to prosperity and health for the next generation.

Amidst the incredible hardship, caused by COVID-19, there is an opportunity to take a fresh look at old challenges, to raise our ambitions and to come back stronger. Where we live has never been more important to how we live. The big challenges to our climate, to our economy and to address the inequality that exists in our society are still there. In some cases the pandemic has made the challenge even greater and the need to find solutions even more urgent.

This is serious. And there is much that we can do, together.

Home campaign participants

We have a vision that Wales is a place where good housing is a basic right for all. Good housing, with the right support where it is needed, is crucial for every person, or family, whatever their circumstances.

Making this a reality will require focused and determined partnership in every part of Wales. We have been grateful, therefore, for the input of nearly 100 colleagues from external organisations, working alongside hundreds of colleagues from housing associations to explore the challenges and develop the ideas for change reflected in this document.

We know that ideas are nothing without practical, thought-through plans; and the leadership and drive to make it happen. We want to play our part. Next year, we will publish our accompanying Action Plan for Government document.

This will set out the detailed actions we believe are necessary to put these ideas into practice and to foster a recovery that prioritises a decent and affordable home as the starting point for successful lives and successful places. We all need somewhere to call home. Now is the time to make it happen.

 

Stuart Ropke, Chief Executive, Community Housing Cymru

The challenges we set out in this manifesto are not new. But the combined impact of global events, such as climate change, an ageing population, our changing relationship with Europe and the pandemic have the potential to amplify inequality, hit the poorest hardest and set us back rather than forward.

Our collective mission is to provide good quality, affordable homes in communities across Wales. Yet we deliver far more than bricks and mortar alone and we want to work with communities and partners to increase our collective impact.

Through our investment in new and existing homes, we help strengthen local economies: providing jobs and supporting local supply chains. And through work across our businesses and our homes, we strive to be a low carbon sector - reducing our impact on the environment and actively seeking opportunities to reduce energy bills.

Through providing accessible and supported housing, aids and adaptations, and housing-related support, we help offer people genuine choice about where they live and help them to remain as independent as possible if their needs change, close to the people and places that matter most. And our members, who provide registered social care services, including residential and nursing care, offer high-quality, person-centred care when people are unable to remain in their own homes.

We are serious about change. As private organisations, that exist for public good, we are in it for the long term. We will bring our assets, people and funding to bear in a partnership with the new Welsh Government and local public services to support the changes we set out in this document.

To do this we need the next Welsh Government to take bold action in the following areas:

1. Invest for future generations

Capital investment should be prioritised and measured according to the impact it can have on future generations to support a shift to an economy that is founded on wellbeing principles.

Longer term funding certainty would give housing associations the ability to plan, invest, take risks and build partnerships.

Rebalance spend away from crisis to long term prevention over the next Senedd term. Bring pace and certainty to the development process.

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We will play our part to invest for the future.

We will be responsible developers.

We will invest locally.

We will build strong local supply chains to make existing homes energy efficient.

We will make public money go further by matching every £1 invested in building new social housing.

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2. Shared action for shared challenges

We know that resources are under pressure and that statutory services are stretched and responding to crises. We can help. Better join-up with community partners, such as housing associations, could provide support at a much earlier stage, preventing an escalation to crisis point, keeping people in their homes and communities for as long as possible.

Improve systems, partnerships and processes to make it easier to work together on the issues that determine our chances of living well.

A right to adequate housing, supported by the resources and tools to deliver it.

The next government should implement the recommendations of the Homelessness Action Group to end homelessness in Wales.

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We will play our part to deliver against these shared challenges.

We will continue our work to end homelessness from social housing.

We will continue to widen access to social housing.

We will ensure our homes are affordable.

We will invest time and resources into building community trust and engagement.

We will promote digital inclusion.

We will work in partnership to take action against shared challenges.

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3. Places that people want to live

Local lockdowns have given many of us a more acute sense of the place we live, its geographical boundaries and the public services and businesses that operate locally.

The next Welsh Government should develop an overarching and enabling strategy for town centres which have homes at their heart, empowering local communities to take decisions about how to maximise this opportunity.

The next Welsh Government should put in place measures to end digital exclusion.

The social care and support system requires urgent reform and investment so that it is driven by value, rather than cost, and has the resources needed to deliver improved outcomes for citizen users, the workforce and social value to communities.

As a priority, the Welsh Government must increase social care funding for local authorities.

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We will create places people want to live.

We will make every contact count, sharing our local knowledge and insight with partners to ensure that services work for individuals.

We will use our people, community spaces and buildings to support local groups and places and make services more sustainable, renewable and accessible.

We maximise the impact that town centre living can make to bring greater prosperity, health and connection to our towns.

We will become a low carbon sector by taking action across all of our activity to reduce our carbon footprint and actively seeking opportunities to positively tackle the climate emergency.

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The case for Change

Reducing poverty is the starting point for prosperous, healthy and connected people and places.

This is serious!
Why me must act now.

Despite concerted efforts, poverty levels remain stubbornly high: Wales has consistently had the highest levels of poverty across the UK for over a century.

The West Wales and the Valleys region is one of the poorest in the whole of Europe and productivity in Wales is the lowest in the UK.

Increasing jobs alone is not enough. Of the 420,000 working age adults living in poverty in Wales, 60% live in households where at least one adult is in work.

We are serious
about playing our part.

Good housing can stimulate and extend economic activity locally. For every 1 person employed full time by a housing association, another 1.5 good quality jobs are supported elsewhere in the economy.

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This is serious!
Why me must act now.

Wales has higher levels of people who are older, in worse health, and poorer than the rest of the UK. Your life expectancy depends on where you live in Wales and the most devastating symptom of our combined public health and housing crisis is homelessness.

We are serious
about playing our part.

A good quality home saves the NHS money.

  • Every £1 spent on improving warmth in vulnerable households could result in a £4 return on investment.

  • For every £1 spent on adaptations, prior to hospital discharge, there is a saving of £7.50 for health and social
 care.

  • Preventing homelessness can result in savings of around £9,266 per person, compared to 
allowing homelessness to persist for 12 months.

A good quality home improves people’s health.

  • Home modifications result in 26% fewer injuries requiring medical treatment (caused by falls) per year.

  • 39% fewer hospital admissions for cardiorespiratory conditions and injuries in those with upgraded houses

  • 3.9% reduction in GP visits for respiratory conditions in Nest scheme beneficiaries (compared to a
 9.8% increase in the control group)

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This is serious!
Why me must act now.

Space in our homes is at a premium. Less than a third (31%) of people surveyed across all types of housing had a dedicated office or study space and 11% felt they didn’t have enough space overall since the lockdown.

Equal access to jobs, learning and training opportunities more than ever relies on digital access. Digital exclusion costs people and the public purse.

We are serious
about playing our part.

We are in it for the long term, spending money with small businesses locally.

We are working with our tenants during the pandemic. During the COVID-19 pandemic, housing associations made over 37,000 welfare calls and 47% of these residents were supported with dedicated advice and guidance.

This is serious!

Why me must act now.

Wales has some of the oldest and least thermally efficient housing stock in the UK and Europe. 32% of the Welsh housing stock was built before 1919.

Despite big improvements, 155,000 households still face fuel poverty in Wales. Fuel poverty is most prevalent in areas of low incomes and general economic depression.

We are serious
about playing our part.

We can keep people living independently at home for longer. Upgrading homes could lead to 39% fewer hospital admissions for circulation and lung conditions.

Investing in energy efficient homes will provide a local economic boost. Refurbishing half of housing association homes in Wales, over the next term of government, would support over 12,000 jobs 3,000 training opportunities and create £2.5bn in economic output.

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