Right to adequate housing will save Welsh Government £11.5billion

Written by Ross Thomas

Introducing a right to adequate housing would generate significant savings for the public purse.

That’s the headline finding from the Back the Bill campaign as it publishes the second phase of research into the social and economic impacts of a right to adequate housing in Wales.  

Commissioned by the Back the Bill partners (Tai Pawb, Shelter Cymru and CIH Cymru), the independent analysis – undertaken by Alma Economics – identifies benefits to the public purse worth £11.5bn against overall costs of £5bn over a 30-year period. It is projected that those benefits could start to outweigh costs after just six years.  

For every £1 spent on the right to adequate housing, the paper highlights £2.30 in benefits. It will: 

  • save £5.5bn in improved well-being;  
  • save £2bn from local council budgets; 
  • save £1bn for the NHS; 
  • save £1bn for the criminal justice system; and 
  • generate £1bn in additional economic activity; 

On health and well-being, for example, the report projects that the improved quality and suitability of homes would lead to less hospital admissions; equally, with a gradual increase in the number of suitable homes available, there would be less reliance on council and other homelessness support services, resulting in further savings to the public purse. 

The ‘Back the Bill’ campaign is calling for the right to adequate housing to be introduced progressively, starting with a ‘Right to Housing Act’ and ensuring that appropriate levels of funding are allocated over time. 

In their report, Alma Economics further highlight ways in which the proposed legislation would support important priorities for the Welsh Government and the people of Wales, such as decarbonising the housing stock across Wales by 2050 and providing homes suitable for an ageing population. Additionally, a right to adequate housing would drive action to tackle inequalities by reducing overcrowding and better supporting disabled people to access homes that meet their needs.  

The research is timely and will support the work on a government White Paper on proposals for a right to adequate housing, the commitment for which is included in the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru’s co-operation agreement.  

Commenting jointly on its publication, Alicja Zalesinska (CEO – Tai Pawb), Ruth Power (CEO – Shelter Cymru) and Matt Dicks (Director – CIH Cymru) said: 

We welcome today’s research findings which are the clearest indication yet of the myriad benefits of introducing a right to adequate housing in Wales.

 “The report identifies a synergy between the right to adequate housing and existing housing policy commitments, such as decarbonisation, ending homelessness and support for an ageing population. There are significant pressures facing many households who are homeless or in poor quality or unaffordable homes as we approach the winter; we firmly believe that a right to adequate housing will, over time, help create a Wales where people can rely upon having a good home that they can afford, and which meets their basic needs.

 That the benefits could outweigh the cost within six years of the introduction of a right to adequate housing demonstrates that the lack of good homes has a significant impact across many areas of public spending. The question is now ‘Why wouldn’t we introduce a right to adequate housing in Wales?’.

 Wales can lead the way in its approach to housing as a human right – and so we look forward to working with Welsh Government and partners to help shape the forthcoming White Paper proposals on a right to adequate housing.

 Over time, everyone in Wales can have a good home. The independent research published today shows this doesn’t just make moral sense, it makes sense for the public purse too”.

Read the report here.

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