Tuesday, 24 June 2008

CHC Welcomes Recommendations of Independent Review

Community Housing Cymru welcomes the findings of the Essex Review and believe if the recommendations are fully implemented, housing associations will be able to tackle the issues that matter to people such as delivering more affordable homes and communities across Wales by potentially investing an additional £100 million over the next 3 years. The recommendations of this report will give housing associations greater freedom to do more to help tackle the Wales wide housing crisis.

Some key recommendations are:
* the need for a strong and sustained political support to deliver affordable housing and go beyond the 6,500 houses in ‘One Wales’
* the need to work in close partnership with housing associations and local authorities
* to free up Housing Associations to provide more homes and community regeneration by revising the regulatory framework

* to maximise all funding streams available, including private sector sources, and facilitating the release of public sector land for new affordable homes

* to work with housing association consortia to increase quality and give best value
* to obtain an information base on the housing needs across Wales and target resources to meet needs
* strong emphasis on performance at local and national level to deliver targets

The report identifies that the key to delivering the reports aims are:

* the creation of a new regulatory framework for housing associations
* for each local authority to have their own targets with a housing forum, involving all key players focused on delivery

* that the Welsh Assembly Government acts as a supportive partner in terms of grant aid, planning context, finance of land lease

* the Minister to take an overall responsibility for performance and work in close liaise with key stakeholders to ensure the Government stays responsive to change in housing market

Community Housing Cymru called for this review and were delighted when, in October last year, the Deputy Minister for Housing, Jocelyn Davies announced she was setting up a task and finish group led by Sue Essex. The group met or received evidence from over seventy organisations or individuals, including the membership body and many members.

Nick Bennett, Chief Executive said: "Community Housing Cymru called for this review and called for Sue Essex to lead it, we also submitted evidence and therefore are very happy to stand by these independent recommendations. We accept the challenges it poses, not only to the Welsh Assembly Government but to our members and other stakeholders including Local Government, but have to take that challenge if we are to meet the needs of communities across Wales in a time of great hardship for the sector."

Ian Williams, Chair of Community Housing Cymru said: "These recommendations come at a time when housing in Wales is facing major issues, compounded by the effects of the credit crunch. This is in addition to issues around repossessions which have also been increasing. Housing Associations have a record of positively responding to the changing world of private finance, efficiency and partnership and are undoubtedly well positioned to increase the supply of social housing."

Sue Essex commented: "This is a critical time for housing in Wales and we met with considerable enthusiasm within the housing sector in Wales for delivery through this change agenda to deliver for people in housing need. It is not just a matter of numbers, but making sure new housing is of the right type and quality standard, and is in the right place to meet local need and support local communities."

The full report can be found at: