Welsh under pressure to revise homes goal
Shelter Cymru is calling on the Welsh government to revise its target on affordable homes and allow empty homes to help reach the goal.
The charity has released research which calculates housing need in Wales is greater than thought and says councils should be encouraged to make use of empty homes.
John Puzey, director of Shelter Cymru, said: ‘Around 91,000 households are waiting for council or social housing in Wales, yet there are more than 26,000 privately owned properties lying empty.
‘It is clear that by providing support and incentives for local authorities to make use of this huge wasted resource, the Assembly Government could also give a significant boost to meeting the increasing need for affordable homes in Wales.’
He pointed to an Audit Commission report last month, which estimated if 5 per cent of empty homes could be brought back into use English councils could cut their annual homelessness costs by £0.5 billion.
‘There is a desperate lack of affordable housing in Wales and the situation is only made worse by the current recession,’ Mr Puzey said.
Academic Alan Holmans has calculated in a paper for Shelter Cymru that the level of housing needed in Wales is at least 13,000 homes a year.
The housing charity believes this means a rise in affordable home provision of 2,500 to 4,000 a year.
Mr Holmans, research fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research, calculated in 2003 at least 8,600 new homes were needed each year in Wales to meet housing need. His findings, published in a report for the Council of Mortgage Lenders called Who’s counting? Demand for homes in Wales 1998 – 2016, estimated 2,500 of those needed to be affordable.
The Assembly Government has pledged to build 6,500 affordable homes by 2011. It released independent figures from the Welsh Economic Research Unit this summer showing 3,252 homes had been built over the past couple of years – meaning it is half way to its target.