New quality standard being introduced for all social homes in Wales

The Welsh Government has launched a consultation on updating the social housing quality standard, with a specific aim of delivering on improving energy efficiency and helping to achieve net zero carbon emission targets.

Climate Change Minister Julie James said the new standard would build upon the achievements of its predecessor, which was introduced in 2002 and by the end of 2020 had brought 99 per cent of social housing in Wales upto the existing decent homes standard.

The new standard is due to be introduced next year and is planned to be achieved by 2033. The consultation exercise closes in early August. More than 900 tenants, as well as technical experts and social housing professionals, have been involved in drawing up the proposals.

The aim of the new standard is to deliver homes that are in a good state of repair, is safe and secure, is affordable to heat and has minimal environmental impact, has an up-to-date kitchen, utility area and bathroom, is comfortable and promotes wellbeing, has a suitable garden and an attractive outside space.

Speaking in the Senedd Ms James said: “I am sure members will agree that, after 20 years, the standard is due to be reviewed, especially to acknowledge the considerable changes to how people live, work and feel about their homes.

“The world has moved on apace in the last 20 years and our expectation of our homes has moved on too. The proposed standard aims to be bold but ultimately achievable. We aim with our consultation to ensure that the voice of the sector is taken into account in finalising these standards and getting them right.

“Setting standards is not an easy business at the best of times.  It is even more challenging setting standards relating to the decarbonisation of homes – which is a developing area where we are learning what works best on an ongoing basis.

Ms James, added that the £220m committed over this term of Government to the Optimised Retrofit Programme, aimed at to decarbonising existing homes will help. It will provide some of the answers to how effectively and efficiently carbon emissions from homes will be reduced in line with the Net Zero Wales plan. However, in the face of the climate change emergency she said it was not possible to stand still, and the Government must continue to push progress and set standards to address decarbonisation through a variety of measures in existing social housing.

Lessons learnt from working on the 230,000 social homes in Wales will then be applied to how improvements can be delivered to the 1.2 million homes in private ownership, including private rentals.

Patrick Mooney, Editor