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Welsh Government to pump £170m into housing initiatives

The Welsh Government has pumped £170 million into housing initiatives, its draft budget announcements revealed today.

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It increased its investment in affordable homes by 16 per cent to £71.8 million, in a bid to provide smaller properties for those displaced by the bedroom tax.

A total of £53.8 million will be used to build new properties or renovate existing properties, along with additional capital of £20 million for social housing grant – £5 million in 2014/15 and £15 million in 2015/16 to build smaller homes.

A further £140 million has been earmarked for help to buy Cymru over the next two years, which is expected to stimulate an £800 million investment in 5,000 new homes, while £10 million was split equally between a new pilot scheme to provide loans to social landlords to acquire land sites for affordable housing schemes, and provide loans to developers to convert empty residential properties.

Additional funding of £4.9 million was also committed for 2015/16, to support implementation of the homelessness element of the Housing (Wales) Bill.

Nick Bennett, chief executive of Community Housing Cymru, said: ‘We welcome the increase in social housing grant - it shows that the Welsh Government recognises investment in housing as an economic stimulus, creating a boost to the Welsh economy and also has a wider impact in terms of creating jobs and training opportunities.

‘Investment in affordable housing can also combat the problems brought about by welfare reform such as the bedroom tax, and we welcome the additional £5 million earmarked for one and two bed homes to mitigate against this.’

However, Care & Repair Cymru, part of the CHC group, expressed disappointment that revenue grant for care and repair services, which help elderly people live independently at home, were cut by 10 per cent.

Julie Nicholas, policy and public affairs manager at the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru, said: ‘CIH Cymru is delighted to see that housing is a clear priority for the Welsh Government. The benefits of housing investment is highlighted throughout the document, in terms of its economic stimulus and the provision of community benefits, such as jobs and training opportunities.’

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