As you would expect, I have met a fair few people in the two months I have been in post, and attended a lot of meetings, conferences and report launches.
During that period, we’ve also had the publication of the Welsh Government’s White Paper on Local Government Reform – their proposal for more collaborative working between public services in Wales – as well as the publication of the bill to abolish the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire.
Like the rest of the UK, we also have the ticking timebomb that is the LHA cap hanging over our heads. The impact on under 35s and the elderly in particular causing real concern.
In Wales, we also have the on-going inquiry into the relatively new regulatory framework for housing associations by the Welsh Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee and the new regulatory judgement framework is bedding in.
So there has been a lot for me to absorb in those two months. But it has been one session in particular that has stood out in all of that, a session that filled me with confidence for the future of the sector.
It was with a group of young housing professionals who, as part of CIH Cymru’s Frontline Futures course, had to deliver a presentation to senior managers within their own organisation about a change programme that they had implemented.
I saw innovative solutions to problems faced across the sector. They included better ways to deal with falls, earlier engagement with tenants to cut down on eviction rates and better management of rent collection. All schemes that will save their organisations money and time.
The innovation was impressive but it was the passion for the sector that impressed me most. These young professionals will become our leaders of the future, I’m sure of that! A key mantra that came out of the Chartered Institute’s Frontline Futures report in 2014 was the need for the housing professionals of the future to have “a brain for business and a social heart”. They certainly had both in abundance!
We are seeing the austerity agenda really starting to bite and we will begin to feel the effects of the radical changes taking place domestically and across the world. It is more important than ever, therefore, we as a sector hold firm to our core values, to that social heart.
The housing environment is complicated. The ongoing impact of welfare reform, addressing homelessness, tackling poverty, revitalising communities, building high quality homes are all features of a profession that is truly engaged in solving and alleviating some of the most pressing issues within Welsh communities.
Key to achieving this is a more collaborative approach, both across tenure and across the full public policy landscape. Housing is much much more than simply putting a roof over someone’s head. It is a public policy foundation stone that can, and should, influence and inform solutions in other sectors.
The Welsh Government is attempting to drive this agenda by encouraging more links between local authorities with the recent publication of its local government White Paper. This is supported by the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 which seeks to ensure community well-being is addressed via a joined-up approach and measured across public services.
An ambitious target of 20,000 new affordable homes has been set for this Assembly term. Collaboration and innovation have to be at the heart of delivering on this target. That’s why the theme of TAI 2017 later this month (25-27 April) is “Time to deliver”. CIH Cymru believes it has a programme packed to the rafters in terms of innovation and collaboration.
We are committed to developing partnerships and nurturing the vast array of young talent in the sector as these leaders of the future continue to take ownership and deliver on all our core values.