Insights and Opinions Calum Davies 20/04/2021

Why all parties should support a Welsh Housing Survey

In the fourth NRLA blog on our manifesto calls ahead of the 2021 Senedd election, we focus on the introduction of a Welsh Housing Survey – a campaign that’s already gaining momentum.

Housing stakeholders in Wales agree that there is a lack of depth and breadth when it comes to key data about the sector. Policymakers need evidence to take an informed view, to make the right decisions and to get an accurate view of the Private Rented Sector.

As evidenced through the recent legislative process for Welsh housing bills, many of the perceptions are influenced by anecdotal evidence. That is because there is no extensive, independent, recurring, government-commissioned research that seeks to measure a range of indicators, upon which all can agree and rely. The Housing Conditions Evidence Programme and National Survey for Wales were positive steps towards the introduction of a more robust system of analysis, but they do not go nearly far enough in capturing other critical information.

The English Housing Survey has been running for half a century. It collects information about people’s housing circumstances and the condition and energy efficiency of housing. Its two component surveys consist of 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 participate in the written survey.

The current contract to deliver the English Housing Survey was awarded to the National Centre for Social Research for £19,698,480. The cost is spread over seven years and covers the delivery of five annual rounds of the survey. Given the difference in population between England and Wales, the Welsh Government would not need to spend as much or conduct as much research as in England.

The information the survey collects includes 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.

The survey generates information that would have been invaluable for the several pieces of past legislation passed by the Senedd. It could also have better informed other operational decisions taken by the Welsh Government during the devolution era. Indeed, it would have contained useful statistics to underpin discussion of the recently passed possession reform Bill, and in deciding how to re-shape Wales post-pandemic.

Homes for All Cymru have incorporated the need for parties to commit to such a survey in their post-Covid housing plan. The NRLA call has also been backed the Chartered Institute for Housing, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors, Tai Pawb, and Propertymark.

Since the start of the campaign, we're also very pleased to have gained the backing of Mike Hedges MS, Labour Chair of the Cross Party Group for Housing, and Laura Jones MS, Conservative Shadow Housing Minister, who wrote a joint article to affirm their support.

We call on all members of the current Welsh Government and all parties that aspire to form the next, to commit themselves to introducing a Welsh Housing Survey, similar to that in place for England. We hope this will lead to more informed and evidence-based policymaking, improving the lives of everyone in Wales.

You can read more about the Welsh Housing Survey and other campaigns here.