Welsh Housing – improving the quality

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judy_wayneThe Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) has been at the heart of Welsh housing policy for over 12 years. It has been the focus of very substantial investment.

A more complex standard than the Decent Homes Standard, Welsh Government’s intention has always been to achieve something beyond merely an acceptable level of physical accommodation: community benefits measured in terms of the economy, employment, health and the environment are all deemed to be essential components of the Standard. One effect of this broad focus, with its associated complexities, has been an element of uncertainty in assessing whether the Standard is being achieved and, just as importantly, maintained. The fact that housing associations and local authorities are under different regulatory regimes when it comes to reporting progress towards the Standard introduces a further complication.

Response to the researchers’ enquiries showed clearly that there is considerable variation in the way landlords interpret the published Welsh Government guidance. This is not surprising given that returns involve a calculation requiring information on between 50 and 70 components and sub-components per property. And this is before considering and assessing quality-of-life factors beyond bricks and mortar.

The report made a number of recommendations, which you can read in the full report and summary available on the Welsh Government website. Welsh Government, in its latest Homes for Wales bulletin has announced that it will be acting on the recommendations of the Altair report. Welsh Government will shortly be writing to all social landlords asking them to produce a WHQS Compliance Policy in consultation with tenants.

This will include details of:

  • how landlords judge they are implementing or have implemented WHQS
  • how they communicate with tenants about progress
  • how they are independently verifying compliance
  • how landlords judge they are implementing or have implemented WHQS
  • the extent to which community benefits have been achieved by WHQS improvement programmes.

The published Compliance Policies will provide evidence to tenants, funders and Welsh Government as to how landlords are meeting and maintaining the WHQS.

Altair provides a full range of asset management services including policy advice, operational and data reviews.

For more information please contact; Judy Wayne on 02920 377 268 or email: judy.wayne@nullaltairltd.co.uk; Philip Johnson on 07969 310170 or email: philip.johnson@nullaltairltd.co.uk.