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Calls continue for a Welsh Housing Survey

Wednesday 03 March 2021

Propertymark is continuing to back the National Residential Landlords Association’s (NRLA) in their campaign for the introduction of a Welsh Housing Survey (WHS). Laura Jones MS, Welsh Conservative Shadow Housing Minister, and Mike Hedges MS, Welsh Labour Chair of the Cross Party Group for Housing recently backed the calls by stating that “a Welsh Housing Survey is needed as evidence-based policymaking should be taken as standard.”

The call comes as the Senedd passes the Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Bill, its sixth Bill affecting the private rented sector in seven years, not considering those that focus on land transaction tax, planning, and others that indirectly affect housing. These legislative changes have been implemented without any comprehensive, government-commissioned data set for housing to support good policymaking.

Wales currently builds data on housing through the National Survey for Wales and the Housing Conditions Evidence Programme. The NRLA says this falls far short of what a WHS would deliver.

A Welsh Housing Survey would collect a wealth of information such as data on the proportion of private rented sector tenancies ended by the tenant, the levels of satisfaction among social renters, and the percentage of owner-occupied homes that are under-occupied.

A joint approach

A joint letter from the NRLA, Propertymark, and other housing bodies calling for a survey was sent to the Welsh Government and argued that the long-running English Housing Survey, in place since 1967, is an aspirational model due to the volume of data it collects. Adopting a similar model for Wales would allow for greater comparability and accountability between the nations.

Since the National Residential Landlords Association launched their campaign for a Welsh Housing Survey last autumn, Jones and Hedges have both been happy to sign up for what should be a non-partisan no-brainer. The NRLA’s call has been backed by not only Propertymark but Homes for All Cymru – a housing umbrella organisation that includes Shelter and Crisis – in addition to the Chartered Institute for Housing, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), Tai Pawb, and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Two Senedd committees have recommended the Welsh Government explore ways to increase and improve data on housing in Wales, especially the private rented sector (PRS).

Comprehensive data is needed

As stressed in the recent calls, a Welsh Housing Survey would be a comprehensive data collection exercise that emulates – and can even improve upon – its long-running English equivalent. The English Housing Survey has been running for half a century. Its two components are a household interview and a physical inspection of a sub-sample of the properties. Each year, around 13,300 households take part in the face-to-face interview survey, with about 6,000 of the households also taking part in the physical survey.

The English survey collects a wealth of information such as data on the proportion of PRS tenancies ended by the tenant, the levels of satisfaction among social renters, and the percentage of owner-occupied homes that are under-occupied. Adopting a similar model for Wales would allow for greater comparability and accountability between the nations. A Welsh survey is critical for measuring the impact of housing policies – a significant part of the Senedd’s post-legislative scrutiny duties.

 

Quote mark

There will be plenty of policy debates to come before the election this year and we’re sure it will continue after. But when the next Welsh Government takes its place and we look to life after COVID, we should not waste time before getting a Welsh Housing Survey in place. This will lead to more informed and evidence-based policymaking in housing for the benefit of everyone in Wales. It is the least that should be expected from our confident law-making nation.

Laura Jones MS and Mike Hedges MS