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Shelter Cymru’s Response to the Welsh Government Green Paper consultation: Securing a path towards adequate housing including fair rents and affordability
Shelter Cymru welcomes the opportunity to provide evidence to this Green Paper consultation. We strongly support the Welsh Government’s vision that every person should be able to obtain a safe, and affordable home. As the introduction to the consultation document clearing recognises, “the ability to call somewhere home provides security, identity, and a sense of community belonging.” We understand that our response will help inform the development of a White Paper consultation next year, which will include proposals to achieve housing adequacy, including fair rents and affordability, a commitment which is part of the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru. Wider strategic policy making takes time and consideration. However, this should not deflect from the need for more immediate responses to support Welsh households in our housing emergency today. In our response we provide suggestions on where this immediate action should be focused.
Shelter Cymru’s response to the Local Government and Housing Committee inquiry into the private rented sector
Shelter Cymru welcomes the opportunity to provide evidence to this inquiry into the private rented sector in Wales. Our thoughts have been shaped by our extensive housing advice casework across Wales and first-hand experience of working with households living in privately rented accommodation. We have also met with our Back the Bill partners, CIH Cymru and Tai Pawb, to share thoughts on our responses and to provide support to our submissions. Generation Rent have also shared their submission with us.
This research aims to explore the circumstances which lead to eviction for anti-social behaviour (ASB) from social housing in Wales and the current policies and procedures of social landlords. It brings together good practice with practical recommendations to assist social landlords in the pursuit of ending evictions into homelessness. The Welsh Government’s current Homelessness Strategy states that homelessness cannot be prevented through housing alone and that all public services and the third sector have a role to play, working together to prevent homelessness, and where it cannot be prevented, to ensure it is rare, brief and unrepeated
The Care Leavers’ Accommodation and Support Framework for Wales is a model which aims to help organisations that support young people in making their journeys towards leaving care. It is written for local authority commissioners, leaving care managers, housing managers and providers of housing and support for young people. Having somewhere safe and secure to live is central to young people having a positive exit from care. However, there is no blueprint for success in terms of what needs to happen and each care experienced person’s experience of being looked after is different, and their experience of leaving care will also be different. The framework is designed to ensure that care leavers have the flexible support they need so that no care experienced person falls through the cracks. Shelter Cymru have worked with Welsh Government and a wide range of partners to update the previous framework published in 2016. The framework also has been divided up into four separate documents for ease of use, with the main link below going to a summary document. The four framework documents are then provided in the additional documents section below.
During 2021, Shelter Cymru completed research for the National Union of Students (NUS) in Wales resulting in the report Broken Foundations: Fix Student Housing. It sought to challenge the idea that “students should just put up with shoddy housing as a rite of passage” and shone a light on the extent to which housing issues affect students’ daily lives. The NUS report called for transformative change to the student accommodation market with recommendations that all students must: • be able to hold their landlords to account, • have the same rights and protections regardless of where they live, • be able to afford to live in safe and healthy housing. This research builds upon our learning. It has been commissioned by Cardiff Students’ Union with the aim of highlighting the realities of living in student accommodation in Cardiff specifically. It provides the opportunity for a more detailed look at the student housing market in this area as well as an update on our understanding of the pressures’ students are experiencing with rising housing costs and the cost of living more generally. This report outlines our research methodology and key findings before concluding with a series of recommendations intended to inform the Students’ Union’s future advice service and campaign work.
Is your organisation using rent rescue to prevent homelessness? Are you saving private tenancies at risk through purchase of the property by a social landlord? We’re aware of emerging good practice taking place across Wales and would love to hear about what you are doing to inform our policy and campaigns work.
Preventing homelessness for struggling homeowners. A call to re-introduce a mortgage rescue scheme in Wales
Shelter Cymru is increasingly worried about the impact of increased mortgage interest rates. The increased cost of mortgage payments is expected to cause severe financial difficulty for 220,000 households in the UK during 2023, putting them at risk of homelessness. Even before the recent interest rate increases, mortgage repossessions were on the rise in Wales and numbers are beginning to increase in Shelter Cymru’s caseload. In the past, Wales was at the forefront of using mortgage rescue to prevent hundreds of households from becoming homeless. We can also learn lessons from its successful use elsewhere in the UK. Dedicated capital funding from Welsh Government is required now to ensure that mortgage rescue can be re-introduced, at the scale and pace the cost of living crisis necessitates.
Shelter Cymru’s response to the Local Government and Housing Committee Consultation On Homelessness and Temporary Accommodation
Shelter Cymru welcomes the opportunity to respond to this consultation regarding the use of temporary accommodation (TA) in Wales. We have prepared this short written submission, as requested, in advance of the evidence giving session on the 24th November. Our thoughts have been shaped by our extensive housing advice casework across Wales and first-hand experience of working with households who are currently being accommodated in TA by local authorities. Our response considers TA to include all forms of short-term accommodation used by local authorities to fulfil their homelessness duties. This includes B&Bs, hotels, refuges, hostels, and short term private and social lets. This encompasses a wide range of accommodation settings, some of which are more suitable than others.
Consultation response: Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 – Improving security of tenure by increasing the period of notice
We have submitted our response to the Welsh Government's consultation about plans to extend the six-month notice period landlords are required to give to apply to existing tenancies. Shelter Cymru supports increasing the notice period for pre-existing tenancies from two months to six months as soon as the Renting Homes (Wales) Act comes into force on 1 December 2022. We are pleased that the Welsh Government has championed the benefits of longer notice periods - allowing more time to find alternative accommodation locally in our pressurised housing market, for moves to be planned and disruption to family life and finances to be minimised. Our own caseload has seen a 114% increase in “no fault” section 21 eviction notices since last year. We are constantly hearing how difficult it is to find alternative homes - both for individual households and for local authorities seeking to assist them. Private renters in Wales face a perfect storm: The existing housing supply emergency, where social housing is like gold dust and ownership is a long way out of reach; the highest rent increase levels outside of London; and a further squeeze on budgets from rising bills. We believe that certainty for all renters is needed now more than ever and should be introduced as soon as possible.
Alma Economics was commissioned by Tai Pawb, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Cymru and Shelter Cymru as part of the Back the Bill campaign to explore the costs and benefits of progressively introducing the RTAH in Wales. This research is the second part of a two-phased project and builds on the findings from the first phase that focused on evidence on the impact of safe, secure, affordable and adequate housing on key outcomes such as health, wellbeing, productivity and crime, and case studies of introducing similar rights to housing and policies in other countries, including cases in Finland, New Zealand, Scotland, Canada, France, Spain and South Africa. The findings in the Phase 1 report concluded that, whilst most of the case study countries have already gone further than Wales in terms of their passed legislation and future law-making ambitions, there were areas for improvement in all the case studies. This provides an opportunity for Wales to use lessons learnt to become an international exemplar in establishing and realising the RTAH. In this study, building on the available evidence and discussions with sector experts, we developed a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) framework that links the costs of introducing the RTAH in Wales to the socio-economic benefits flowing from this intervention. Our approach is based on standard practice outlined in HM Treasury guidance on policy appraisal, which is the relevant CBA guidance followed by the Welsh Government.
Finding a private rented home in Wales has become increasingly difficult over the last few years, with rents increasing and overall demand for housing outstripping supply. Added to this is an insufficient supply of social housing that is contributing to increased competition for affordable private rented homes. This report provides the findings of a Shelter Cymru survey of private landlords in Wales which reveals barriers that some prospective tenants can face when trying to access private rented homes, which makes it even more difficult for them to find a home.
This report will examine the current landscape of student housing in Wales and make recommendations as to how we can work together to improve conditions and experiences for students across all parts of Wales. While these recommendations would go a long way towards improving the quality of student housing and housing more widely, we hope that this report and ongoing work begins the move to a fundamental reform of housing in Wales, which sees everyone receive the right to a good home.
The right to adequate housing is a fundamental human right derived from the right to an adequate standard of living. This fundamental human right is incorporated in legislation in countries such as South Africa and Canada and in the constitutions of other countries such as Finland. More recently, Scotland has been taking steps toward introducing this right in national legislation to ensure its progressive realisation and enforcement. In November 2021, the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru committed the Welsh Government to publishing a White Paper on proposals for introducing a right to adequate housing in Wales. Focusing on international comparisons – including examples from Finland, Canada and South Africa – the research, undertaken by Alma Economics, has found both good practice and valuable lessons across a range of approaches.
For decades, student housing has been a byword for low quality. Being ripped off by dodgy landlords, living with broken appliances and having to put up with damp and mould are seen as part of student life, to be tolerated and left unchallenged. This report, commissioned by NUS Wales and carried out by Shelter Cymru unpicks some of the myths around students and their housing situations across the Welsh post-16 sector. It is based on a Wales-wide survey run by Shelter Cymru in May-June 2021. The findings help to paint a picture of students’ experiences in the 2020-21 academic year, giving us a better understanding of the issues students face when it comes to having a safe and secure home.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed so much about the way we live our lives and initially brought unprecedented challenges and enforced changes to Welsh homelessness services. When the first UK-wide lockdown was announced in March 2020, staff were no longer able to work from their offices in their usual way and had to find new ways to work remotely with people in housing need. This toolkit was produced by Shelter Cymru’s Take Notice Project. It is designed to help support staff and service users while working remotely, either when government restrictions are put in place or because a blended form of working will remain the new normal for some organisations. It explores the challenges and opportunities of this new way of working.
Losing one’s home is a very significant event, and likely to be even more frightening and traumatic if it results in homelessness. Becoming homeless from social housing can be seen as a failure of housing and wider systems that aim to enable people, including vulnerable people, to live in safe and secure long term homes. This report is informed by the experiences of some people who have been very close to losing their social homes, and the work of social landlords and other organisations in helping to prevent homelessness from social housing.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of having a home as an essential place of safety. Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are one of the most useful and flexible financial tools available to local authorities to help people to keep their place of safety and to prevent homelessness. Funding for DHPs is given to local authorities by the UK government, via the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This briefing outlines some lessons for effective use of DHPs. It is based on good practice we have evidenced through our housing advice casework, and through conversations with four Welsh local authorities that achieved particularly good results with DHPs.
Life in lockdown has been hard, but it has been much harder for some people than for others. Covid-19 has exposed huge inequalities in Welsh communities. It has shown how people on modest incomes have suffered the worst financial impacts, and how people in poor quality housing have been more exposed to the virus. It has shown how, for some people, home is not a safe space: domestic violence increased in lockdown, and some children and young people have been exposed to violence and abuse at home. This briefing paper presents data on people’s experiences of home during the initial lockdown period. It is based on a national YouGov online survey carried out towards the end of that period in July 20202. The timing of the survey allowed us to take into consideration many of the key policy changes relating to lockdown rules. These findings give us a better understanding of the lives of people during lockdown in Wales. Only from gaining this understanding can we prepare for the possibility of similar situations occurring in future.
The Housing Quality Network found that across Wales in 2018, 993 applicants were excluded from social housing in six local authorities. Most landlords and authorities had no records of number and so, if the figure is extrapolated, it could mean over 3500 households were excluded in Wales. This paper describes good practice in helping people with former tenant arrears back into social housing.
This report analyses the role of homelessness reviews in Wales since the implementation of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. The research is based on data from FoI requests to local authorities and interviews with a range of stakeholders, detailing explanations of the law on homelessness reviews and the legal processes that must be followed.
Nobody understands homelessness better than those who have experienced it themselves. This report was recognised by the Homelessness Action Group, who worked to help ensure the Welsh Government heard recommendations on how to end homelessness that were grounded in lived experience.
Putting good homes at the core of the post-Covid recovery plan: A discussion paper by Homes for all Cymru for the Cross Party Housing Group
Covid-19 has demonstrated the importance of a good home. From physical and mental health, to the ability to work and learn from home, the pandemic has exposed far reaching inequalities and a lack of investment in homes. Homes for all Cymru make the case for good homes to be central to the national recovery plan.
This report offers a deep dive into the allocation of social housing in Swansea and the experiences of people who have been through their services. The report makes recommendations from moving away from ‘tenancy ready’ to creating opportunities for more direct engagement with the Move-On Panel.
In 2018, more than 3000 young people in Wales became homeless and had to use council homelessness services. This report explores experiences of young people and identifies the need for urgent change to realise the ambition of achieving zero evictions into homelessness.
Response to the Welsh Government consultation on extending the notice period for a no-fault eviction
Shelter Cymru’s response to the Welsh Government’s consultation on extending the notice period for “no-fault evictions.” Our response drew upon our own experience and expertise as well as 114 survey responses from a range of sector stakeholders.
At the time of publication, this report was one of the very few pieces of evidence on homelessness and trans people. We spoke to 25 trans people across Wales who had lived experience of homelessness, to understand their experiences and what support services are lacking in being able to tackle homelessness for the trans community.
On the second anniversary of the tragedy of Grenfell Tower, this report looks at why the case for a right to adequate housing being enshrined in Welsh law is important, now more than ever.
This is a guide to Shelter Cymru’s Equal Ground Measure. The Measure is a new way for councils to understand users perceptions of homelessness services, shaped by the involvement of over 100 people with lived experience of homelessness.
This briefing outlines lessons for effective use of the Discretionary Housing Payment pot in Wales, which is awarded to Welsh councils by the UK Government annually. Shelter Cymru’s Waste Not Want Not campaign has helped over recent years to encourage councils to use full allocations, before money is returned to Westminster.
Providing enough affordable rented homes in Wales is the biggest issue facing this and the next generation of people who cannot buy. This response to the Welsh Government’s consultation identifies ways to increase supply of affordable housing but also improve affordability within existing stock.
Street homelessness in Wales is an increasingly visible and pressing issue. Evidence suggests that 2017-18 saw an increase in rough sleeping of 10%. This report takes accounts from 100 rough sleepers across Wales as well as a range of professional views to develop a raft of solutions.
Response to the National Assembly for Wales’ Equality, Local Government and Communities call for evidence on the general principles of the Renting Homes (Fees etc) (Wales) Bill
Since 2016’s “Letting Go” campaign, Shelter Cymru has been calling fora ban on tenants fees and voicing concern on the lack of transparency in agents’ fee policies. This response welcomes moves by the Welsh Government to commit to banning fees, but also highlights aspects of the Renting Homes (fees etc) (Wales) Bill which should be strengthened.
The idea that people might make themselves homeless “intentionally” has been a source of fierce debate for decades. This guide aims to explore prevention strategies that can be employed in the absence of intentionality powers. We hope this guide sparks ideas for ending intentionality for families and, in the long run, for all.
This briefing makes the case for increasing the security of private renters by ending “no fault” evictions, or Section 21 evictions. The second half of the 20th century has seen a demographic shift in the PRS away from young professionals and childless couples - yet the legislative framework has not kept pace with this change.
The Living Home Standard brings to life what the public perceive we should all be able to expect our homes to provide. Shelter worked with Ipsos MORI and British Gas to engage the public and build a range of statements which form the Living Home Standard - an objective benchmark across five dimensions.
This is a short guide to give private landlords in Wales information on how to work with tenants who may be vulnerable, or on low incomes. This guide has been developed with input from experienced private landlords who have been working successfully with vulnerable tenants for many years.
The prevention of homelessness has never been more important in Wales. Since the introduction of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, no other nation, globally, has placed homelessness prevention on such a strong statutory footing. Following the recommendations of the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee, we explored the accessibility and sustainability of social housing and examined the impact of eviction from council and Registered Social Landlord (RSL) housing. The ultimate aim of our research is to prevent homelessness and promote good practice among social landlords by highlighting potential barriers to the prevention of eviction and by proposing solutions.
In April 2015 the law on homelessness in Wales changed in a number of important ways. The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 placed a new duty on local authorise to carry out ‘reasonable steps’ to prevent or relieve homelessness for all eligible households. This research finds variability in approaches both between and within local authorities, with clear examples of good practice and areas for improvement.
The Equal Ground Standard is a tool for embedding person-centred principles in frontline homelessness services, developed by service users themselves.
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