Additional investment must be tempered by reality of decarbonisation cost
The Welsh Government has today introduced its draft budget for 2020-2021, announcing major investment to support organisation to achieve its 20,000 affordable homes target. For housing the budget brought with it an additional £48m in Social Housing Grant alongside £50m for the housing loans programme and £25million for the Innovative Housing Programme to support organisations with decarbonisation, and further funding for land release, town centre regeneration and modular building.
The budget has included additional investment of £430m for the NHS and an increase in the financial settlement for local authorities, with that rising by 4.3 per cent. One of the main features of this budget is the inclusion of funding across government portfolios to address climate change.
The full budget breakdown for 2020-2021 is available here.
Commenting on the whole budget announcement, director of CIH Cymru Matt Dicks said:
“Housing is rightly one of the eight priority areas that has shaped the considerations of this budget. Housing is cross-cutting and closely linked with other budget priorities such as reducing poverty and decarbonisation but also early years and employment. Its importance cannot be underplayed. The additional £48m Social Housing Grant investment in delivering the 20,000 affordable housing target is a vital boost as we near the point toward achieving the target.
“It is encouraging to see local authorities receive an additional £15m capital funding that could shore up homelessness prevention services and support the delivery of sorely needed social housing - it is vital that these are considered priority areas for investment locally.
“The Welsh housing sector is a ready and willing partner in addressing the challenges of climate change. Welsh Government’s commitment through a dedicated fund within this budget underlines the importance of jointly taking action in partnership with the sector. Homes that are carbon neutral, energy efficient using locally sourced materials and expertise should be at the heart of our approach to delivering affordable and social housing at pace - creating places that current and future generations will truly thrive.
“Many of our current homes present the biggest challenge, with Wales having some of the oldest homes in Europe. And whilst we welcome the Welsh Government’s commitment in terms of additional capital spend on expanding the innovative housing programme; The Better Homes, Better Wales, Better World report suggests that annually, the cost of retrofitting social housing and homes in fuel poverty alone in Wales could be around £0.5bn - £1bn per annum for the next 10 years. The additional funding for social landlords to undertake initial activity to decarbonise existing homes is important against this backdrop, and whilst we understand the tight fiscal landscape in which the Welsh Government is operating, investment in the de-carbonisation of housing must clearly become a central features of future budget considerations. In short, this investment needs to be the start of a much bigger scaling up of the journey towards carbon-neutral housing across Wales.
“As housing professionals work tirelessly to address homelessness and increase the amount of social and affordable homes built, there must be long-term certainty linked to financing activity to decarbonise existing homes at pace, deliver additional social and affordable homes whilst continuing to provide high quality housing related support services, core to keeping potentially vulnerable people living well in their homes, and we look forwarding to working constructively with Welsh Government to achieve that outcome.”