Before Christmas the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children and the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs announced funding of a three year programme of work to fill the gap in our knowledge about housing conditions in Wales. Given that the last comprehensive collection of data on housing conditions in Wales was the Living in Wales Property Survey 2008 this is an important step in filling one of the key evidence gaps that users often raise with me.
In my second update back in October 2014, I discussed the need for data on the condition of properties in Wales. Since then a project has taken place to review detailed options, costs and benefits to secure the funding for a programme of work that will give us vital information to better understand housing conditions in Wales, which of course has a strong relationship with well-being and poverty.
The new Housing Conditions Evidence Programme will include:
- the Welsh Housing Conditions Survey 2017-18;
- the development and maintenance of an administrative ‘dwelling spine’, sourcing existing data about individual dwellings in Wales; and
- modelling and analysis work on housing conditions and fuel poverty.
It has been a busy few months for our newly formed Housing Conditions Evidence Programme team. Over the autumn, we’ve conducted a procurement exercise and secured an experienced contractor, the Building Research Establishment (BRE), to undertake the Welsh Housing Conditions Survey 2017-18 (WHCS). Fieldwork will begin in August this year. A qualified surveyor will visit around 2,500 households, who have taken part in the National Survey for Wales, to collect data on the condition of the property, including state of repair, hazards, energy efficiency and disabled adaptations. Initial results from the survey will be available during autumn 2018 with detailed analysis and reporting planned for early 2019.
I’m also keen that we are innovative in using data and technology to develop an improved evidence base for the future. This is why we’re also starting to think about what we and stakeholders want and need from a ‘dwelling spine’ that would make best use of administrative data and other sources. We’ve been talking with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) about the work they are doing on creating an ‘address register’ for England and Wales as part of their preparations for the Census 2021, to see how the two projects can complement each other. We are also talking to the Administrative Data Research Centre – Wales to utilise their data science expertise.
Governance of the Programme has been established with external representation from the Welsh Local Government Association, Community Housing Cymru and Public Health Wales on both the Programme Board and Project Board. We will also be setting up a Technical Advisors Group for both the WHCS and the ‘dwelling spine’ and are keen to include external representation. If you feel you have expertise to offer to either group, please do get in touch with the Programme team.
If you would like more information about the Programme as a whole, the WHCS or ‘dwelling spine’ or to sign up to our stakeholder updates, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 029 2082 6340.