The Living Home Standard: how does Wales measure up?

How many people in Wales today live in homes that give them what they need to live, rather than just get by?

When Shelter developed the Living Home Standard, in partnership with British Gas and Ipsos MORI, the aim was to establish a measure that was grounded firmly in what people believe a home needs to be.

Using the same principles as the Living Wage, the Living Home Standard establishes acceptable levels of affordability, decent conditions, stability, space and neighbourhood for the first time.

Our findings show that in Britain four out of ten people (43%) live in homes that by this metric are sub-standard. In Wales the figure is even higher: half of people surveyed (49%) live in homes which fail the Standard. In fact, according to the survey Wales has the second worst housing – alongside the East Midlands – after London.

The biggest reason why homes failed was high housing costs, with two in five people in Wales (39%) living in homes which fail on affordability, compared with 27% across Britain.

More than one in four (28%) in Wales live in homes which fail to meet the Standard because of poor conditions, compared with 18% GB-wide. And the homes of more than one in seven people in Wales (16%) fail due to instability, largely driven by renters who feel they don’t have enough control over how long they can live in their home. Across GB the figure is lower at 10%.

The survey sample size is representative at an all-Wales level but we’re not able to drill down further and look at what differences there are between tenures, for example. More work is needed to find out exactly who are living in substandard homes and where they are.

But in the meantime, these worrying results should be seen as a call to action for Wales to pull together and address the problems we’re facing. Make no mistake: the Welsh Government has good policies in the pipeline, including mandatory licensing for private landlords and agents, tenancy reform, ending the Right to Buy and a commitment to double current levels of affordable housebuilding.

The challenge is for all of us in Wales to ensure these policies achieve their ambitious aims.