Greens call for greater focus on housing quality

Following the recent publication of a Shelter Cymru report showing that poor housing costs the NHS in Wales around £67m a year (1), the Green Party has called for greater focus on the quality of social housing in Wales.

Keith M Ross, Green Party Assembly Candidate for the South Wales West Region, said, “This report should come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the condition of council housing stock in Swansea, which continues to deteriorate despite the best efforts of Swansea Council.

“Nine years since the initial publication of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard and three years after the ‘Revised Guidance for Social Landlords’ (2) was issued, we find in the latest report from the Assembly (3) that less than 50% of social housing in Wales is being maintained at an acceptable standard.

“The projections in the report show that by the end of 2011/12 – the original deadline set by the Assembly – only 60% of Housing Association stock, and 28% of Local Authority stock will have reached the required standard.

“There are further projections for the following 5 years, but given the level of progress to date, there are obviously no guarantees that these projections will be achieved. Even if they are achieved, only 53% of Local Authority housing stock will reach the required standard by the time of the next Assembly election in 2016.

“This is clearly unacceptable.

“The problems that Local Authorities face in achieving the Welsh Housing Quality Standard have been well publicised during debates over whether to transfer Council Housing to Registered Social Landlords – and that was before the imposition of cuts in public spending by the coalition government in Westminster.

“The new Assembly will need to recognise that those local authorities like Swansea that have retained their housing stock will not be able to resolve the issues without more support.

“As the Shelter report has shown, there are potential long term financial benefits to improving the housing stock now.”

Notes:

(1) New research reveals real cost of poor housing in Wales: http://www.sheltercymru.org.uk/news/news-index.aspx?newsid=256&parentid=1

(2) The Welsh Housing Quality Standard: Revised Guidance for Social Landlords on Interpretation and Achievement of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard:
http://wales.gov.uk/topics/housingandcommunity/housing/publications/whqsrevisedguide/?lang=en
(3) Social Landlords Performance in Achieving the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (March 2011):
http://wales.gov.uk/docs/desh/publications/110330housingwhqsen.pdf

(4) Wales Green Party Manifesto for the Assembly Election 2011: http://www.greenparty.org.uk/region/wales/Manifesto.html

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