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This guest blog is by David Rowlands, Policy Manager at Tai Pawb. Tai Pawb works to advance equality and social justice in housing in Wales and submitted evidence to our recent report to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This blog includes more information on this work, including the current Senedd inquiry into the right to adequate housing in Wales.  

We’ve all heard the saying, ‘there’s no place like home’, which for many of us rings true. Yet, what about those who it doesn’t apply to? Surely, in the 6th richest economy in the world, everyone should be entitled to a home that is safe, suitable and that they can afford?

That’s what Back the Bill believes. Since 2018, this coalition made up of partners Tai Pawb, Shelter Cymru and the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru has been campaigning to incorporate into Welsh law the right to adequate housing for all.[i]

We know the public want this right. Research from Cardiff University and the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru in 2020 identified over 75% of people surveyed in Wales supported a legal right to housing.

Some may have concerns. Clearly, such a fundamental change to our housing system will require significant investment while others argue its simply unaffordable, especially in the current context. But is this actually the case – does the right to adequate housing add up financially?

Independent research now says very clearly, “yes!”

Undertaken by Alma Economics, using independent HM Treasury guidelines, the research shows incorporating the right to adequate housing in Wales will save money for current and future generations. £11.5bn of benefits will be realised across the public purse and society, against estimated costs of £5 billion over a 30-year period. Public money could be saved by NHS Wales, homelessness could be ended, and our communities made safer by reduced crime.

But while the economic argument now clearly adds up, the right to adequate housing is about much more than this. It is about a systematic and sustained approach to tackling the housing emergency over the long-term. And this can only be achieved by all partners – including government at all levels – working together, through a consistent and sustainable policy framework.

A right to adequate housing can tackle our housing crisis and in doing so address inequalities that have for too long blighted people’s access to a good home.  Better and more homes for disabled people, an end to overcrowding – which we know disproportionately affects Black and minoritised ethnic communities – and culturally appropriate homes for Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities in a safe and suitable location. It can also help preserve and protect our Welsh speaking communities.

The exciting news is 2023 can be the year this change starts. Over the next month, the Senedd’s Local Government and Housing Committee is holding an inquiry into incorporating the right to adequate housing in Wales. Later in the year, the Welsh Government will be publishing a Green Paper into the right to adequate housing and fair rents.

We’ll be producing bi-monthly newsletters throughout 2023 and you can pledge your support here to keep up to date with progress.

Now’s the time for everyone to speak up and contribute to these consultations. We “Back the Bill”, will you?


By David Rowlands, Tai Pawb.

 

Background image by SoHyunPark for OBI x Fine Acts

[i] Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognises the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living, including adequate housing. In 1976 the UK Government ratified the Covenant, and in doing so agreed to be bound by it. However these rights have not been incorporated into our domestic legislation in the UK. The Back the Bill campaign aims to change this by bringing the right to adequate housing into law in Wales.