Around this time last year, the whole housing sector in Wales came together. Board members, tenants, and staff members from across the sector marched from the Senedd into the centre of Cardiff with one single message for all those standing for election – “End the housing crisis, build a stronger Wales.”
One year on, and the Welsh Government has set an ambitious social housing building target, signed a housing pact with housing associations and local government, and have put their money where their mouth is by investing in social housing, protecting the Supporting People budget and maintaining the rent settlement.
So, does this mean that our job is done?
Wales is in the grip of a housing crisis, generations in the making – and we are not alone. Just earlier this month, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid described England’s housing market as ‘broken’.
Failure to act for the long term in Wales risks compounding and sustaining economic failure within our communities and former-industrial heartlands. This would then result in failing older people and those with support needs, and failing young people who wish to rent securely or own a home of their own.
So what are we going to do about it? What is our obligation? But, moreover, what is our ambition?
As a sector, we plan to build over 3,000 homes next year – a quarter of the overall number of homes needed in Wales. We directly employ 10,000 staff, and last year we ploughed over a billion pounds directly into the Welsh economy. 89p in every £1 of this spend was retained in Wales, a figure that continues to rise.
These questions go to the heart of our sector. They challenge us to think about why we are here to protect and to achieve and, indeed, who we are here for.
Housing Horizons is our way of working with you to continue this work to challenge and aim high, to pioneer new solutions and to cement our role now and in the future as the partner of choice to solve the housing crisis in Wales.
Over the course of this year, we will be holding a range of events to bring you together, along with our partners, to challenge ourselves to answer the question we pose to others – how will we work to solve the housing crisis and build a stronger Wales in 2036?
I hope you will be part of the debate, at the Governance Conference and beyond. Follow the #chcgov17 hashtag stream to keep up with what’s happening over the two days!