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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Massaging the figures on Affordable Housing

Yesterday's claim by the Welsh Government that they have exceeded their target to increase the supply of affordable housing in Wales by 6,500 a year early has about as much credibility as George W Bush's declaration of 'Mission Accomplished' regarding the Iraq War. The fact is that they have massaged the figures and sought to redefine their target so as to create the illusion of success.

The One Wales Agreement stated that the government would not just build 6,500 homes, but would increase the supply of affordable homes by this amount. Only counting what has been built but ignoring what has been lost is not an accurate measure of the supply available to those families who need an affordable home.

The statistics published yesterday claim that 6,707 new affordable homes have been built but 2,115 local authority and social landlord owned homes have been sold and at least 73 demolished between 2007 and 20093, so the Deputy Minister has only increased the supply of affordable homes by 4,519. In addition, the inclusion of schemes such as Mortgage Rescue, which help people to stay in their own homes, raise questions about the way that the figures have been calculated in the first place.

Interestingly, we can no longer get up to date figures for demolitions. The responsibility for collecting and publishing this data has been transferred from the Local Government Data Unit directly to the Welsh Assembly Government who chose not to publish the figures any more. It would take a very charitable person to believe that this was not a deliberate action by the government to hide the fact that they are nowhere near meeting their target.

The target is a distraction from measures that could be taken to help create affordable homes. Why is the Minister ignoring the 26,000 private sector empty homes in Wales? These empty homes are a neglected resource that could be housing homeless families and yet there is no government strategy to deal with this issue.

Why is the number of social landlord owned homes staying vacant for longer than 6 months year after year not moving? The Welsh Assembly Government should be working to bring these homes back into use and take people of the waiting list

Ultimately, it is those who need affordable housing for their families, who are suffering as a result of the failure to meet this target.
So wrong, Peter. Demolitions and right to buy sales are NOT Jocelyn's responsibility and you know it.

The real suffering for people in the social housing queue is due to the Thatcherite treasury rules that favour the market and prevent affordable housing from being built to match demand. Your party is now responsible for those rules at Westminster. Do something about it.
Jocelyn, may not be directly responsible for sales and demolitions but then again she is not directly responsible for a number of the statistics she included in her fictional figure such as s.106 agreements for example. Nevertheless she set a net increase as a target and therefore she has to be accountable for that. That means that when we come to evaluate her performance we need to deduct those units that are no longer part of the affordable housing stock.

As for the second part of your comment I am not sure that even you understand what you are asking for. If you are more specific I will do my best to respond to you.
"That means that when we come to evaluate her performance we need to deduct those units that are no longer part of the affordable housing stock."

She (or rather her officials etc) met that target- the supply was increased by 6,700. Some of the supply has disappeared due to the factors she is not responsible for.

Nobody in Wales apart from you is deducting right to buy sales and demolitions- none of the housing charities or organisations. They are all pleased.
Now you are repeating yourself. Because of the loss of these units the supply of affordable housing was NOT increased by 6,707 but by 4,519. That is quite clear and is understood by the media and by those in the housing profession who, in any case, have long argued that 6,500 was not enough.
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