A second reading was given to a private member's Bill designed to secure a review of the availability of affordable and intermediate housing in England by the Secretary of State, and to introduce three new exemptions to the application of the under-occupation deduction from housing benefit (or the housing element of universal credit) for claimants who were deemed to be under-occupying their social rented homes (frequently referred to as the 'spare room subsidy' or the 'bedroom tax'). The housing benefit exemptions would apply in England, Wales, and Scotland to: certain disabled occupiers in adapted accommodation; certain disabled occupants in receipt of disability living allowance or personal independence payment who were not able to share a bedroom; and all claimants where their landlord or local authority had not made a reasonable offer of alternative accommodation.
Source: Affordable Homes Bill, Andrew George MP, TSO | Debate 5 September 2014, columns 550-611, House of Commons Hansard, TSO
The Welsh Assembly approved the Housing (Wales) Act. The Act was designed to introduce a compulsory registration and licensing scheme for private rented sector landlords and letting and management agents; reform homelessness law, place a stronger duty of prevention on local authorities, and allow them to house applicants in private sector housing; place a duty on local authorities to provide sites for Gypsies and Travellers; introduce standards for local authorities on rents, service charges, and quality of accommodation; reform the housing revenue account subsidy system; enable local authorities to charge 50 per cent more than the standard rate of council tax on empty homes; and assist the provision of housing by co-operative housing associations.
Source: Housing (Wales) Act, Welsh Government, TSO
A report said that community land trusts (CLTs) could make a useful contribution to addressing significant housing need in rural communities in Wales, as part of an overall co-operative/community-led housing programme. Drawing on examples of existing projects in Wales, the report considered ways in which the government might further assist the development of CLTs.
Source: Nic Bliss and Alan Fox, The Potential for Community Land Trusts (CLTs) in Wales (incorporating current consideration of a prospective Gwynedd CLT), Wales Co-operative Centre/Confederation of Co-operative Housing/National CLT Network
A report by a committee of MPs said that shale gas represented an opportunity for Wales, but that developing this capacity need not be at the expense of Wales's natural environment. The report made recommendations for the Welsh and United Kingdom governments to take forward work to assess the impact and benefits of shale gas extraction.
Source: Energy Generation in Wales: Shale gas, First Report (Session 2014-15), HC 284, House of Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee, TSO
A study examined the potential impacts of onshore wind farms and associated grid infrastructure on the visitor economy within Wales.
Source: Regeneris Consulting, Study into the Potential Economic Impact of Wind Farms and Associated Grid Infrastructure on the Welsh Tourism Sector, Welsh Government
A report examined the operation of social lettings agencies in Wales, produced as part of the Welsh Local Government Association Private Rented Sector Improvement Project (funded by the Welsh government). It said that some agencies were run by local authorities or housing associations, and others were private or voluntary sector organizations. The report said that geographical coverage was uneven across the 22 local authorities, and there was a wide variety of schemes and funding arrangements. Most agencies and local authorities anticipated an increased demand for private rented sector properties as a result of benefit changes.
Source: Social Lettings Agencies in Wales, Welsh Local Government Association
A report examined how to increase housing supply in Wales and maximize the jobs and growth delivered by home building. It recommended a clearer focus on the outcome (of more homes), rather than on the process, and discussed the need to release public land, utilize local authorities' borrowing powers, and overcome barriers and objections within the planning system.
Source: Delivering More Homes for Wales: Report of the Housing Supply Task Force, Welsh Government
A report evaluated the rural housing enabler network in Wales, which was established to facilitate and broker the development of rural affordable housing. The report said that RHEs had helped delivery of housing, but delivery had been held back by a lack of capital funding, the limited supply of sites, and local planning policy, which were all outside of the control of RHEs. The report made recommendations for actions at the local and Welsh government levels, including the retention of RHEs with long-term funding.
Source: Jo Lavis, David Hedges, Catherine Stubbings, and Lin Cousins, An Evaluation of Rural Housing Enablers in Wales, Research Report 7/14, Welsh Government
A report evaluated the individual budget approach to tackling homelessness in Wales. Five pilot areas had each developed their own approach, and each had received funding of £20,000 from which it was anticipated they would work with ten clients. The evaluation found that, of 79 individual budget recipients involved in the pilots, at least 33 (42 per cent) had achieved relatively stable accommodation, while many others were in some form of temporary accommodation. The report said that the pilots appeared to represent value for money and that there had been a significant underspend per client, with the average figure less than £500. Workers reported reduced spending in other areas, such as health and criminal justice. The report made recommendations.
Source: Philip Brown, Right Time, Right Place? An evaluation of the individual budget approach to tackling rough sleeping in Wales, University of Salford