In the summer of 2013, Community Housing Cymru commissioned research in partnership with the WLGA, funded by Welsh Government, to explore the opportunity for greater collaboration between housing associations and local authorities.
Reflecting on this, it's fair to say that the research challenges the sector and local authorities by, to some extent, putting the writing on the wall over what works and what doesn't. It highlights some issues around consistency, roles and responsibility and some contrasting priorities. But it also demonstrates the high volume of innovative projects that local authorities and housing associations have worked on together in using housing stock and the generally positive relationships that exist between housing associations and local authorities in Wales.
The workshop sessions conducted for the research revealed that some local authorities are concerned that with increasing pressure on housing association rental income, this will increasingly become the focus of business. It's important that we put such concerns to rest.
We've always said we're more about bricks and mortar and we've consistently shown this to be the case - you just need to look at the regeneration, innovative care provision, financial and digital inclusion initiatives, employment and skills projects provided by the sector to understand what housing associations are about. It's more than tackling homelessness - for our members it's about supporting individuals to build fulfilling, rewarding lives.
We know that Supporting People funding will also continue to be an important part of how we provide accommodation and support and the new collaborative arrangements which drive how this funding is used should be an opportunity to build and spread the highly positive practice that exists, much of which is highlighted in the report.
Welfare reform continues to be a shadow over the sector which, in the context of homelessness, undermines the ability of local authorities to house individuals quickly and reduce demand on temporary accommodation due to the 'bedroom tax'.
CHC will continue to challenge and support our members to deliver more, and explore new ways of delivering projects to meet increasing demand on both our own and other sectors. It's clear that the homelessness challenge facing Wales will continue to require dynamic thinking from housing, health, the third sector and Welsh Government to drive improvement in how we do things. It’s true that public services in many instances have no option but to change, so if we can’t control that then we should seek to control how we change in an informed way. This research is a stepping stone to doing that in the context of homelessness.
You can read the full report here.
Policy Officer: Care, Support and Health