Housing – Welsh Government assessment
There have been legal or policy changes to improve human rights protections but very limited evidence of sustained improvements in the enjoyment of human rights on this issue
The Welsh Government has taken action to prevent and reduce homelessness, protect tenants’ rights, improve housing conditions and increase the supply of affordable homes. The Welsh Government also took measures to protect rough sleepers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While the number of households assessed as homeless has decreased, many still face the threat of homelessness. Many people still live in overcrowded, poor-quality housing and the chronic shortage of accessible homes continues to have an adverse impact on the lives of disabled people. Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people continue to face particular housing challenges.
- The changes introduced by the Renting Home (Wales) Act 2016 have the potential to provide greater protection for tenants in Wales.
- The number of households threatened with homelessness increased in 2021/22 by 27% from the previous year to 9,228. However, after consistent increases, the number of households assessed as homeless in 2021/22 decreased by 11%. Homeless households successfully secured accommodation in 34% of cases.
- Between 2016 and 2019, the number of people observed sleeping rough in Wales increased by 25%. Despite steps to provide emergency housing for rough sleepers during the COVID-19 pandemic, many were still sleeping rough in October 2020. Data from July 2022 shows a similar picture.
- A 2017 report by the Welsh Government indicated that housebuilding is not increasing at the rate required to meet the rising number of households in Wales.
- The proportion of social housing that is non-compliant with the Welsh Housing Quality Standard fell from 21% in 2015/16 to 7% in 2018/19.
- The number of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller caravans reported in Wales increased from 934 to 1,065 between January 2017 and January 2022. The proportion on authorised sites has decreased slightly during this time. Implementation of the Welsh Government’s Enabling Gypsies, Roma and Travellers plan has so far not delivered a sufficient increase in pitches to meet demand.
- Despite welcome policy reforms, disabled people continue to report a severe shortage of accessible homes across all accommodation options and are not getting the support they need to live independently. A Welsh Government survey in 2020 found that 18% of tenants reported living in homes that were unsuitable for their particular requirements (for example, specific disabilities).
- Ethnic minority groups are less likely to own their homes than White people. While 70% of White people own their homes, just 23% of Black people do so. Black people are more likely to rent socially, while other ethnic groups are more likely to rent privately.
- While the Welsh Government has not committed to incorporate the right to adequate housing from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights into domestic primary legislation, its commitment to include the right in statutory guidance accompanying the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021 has been welcomed.
- Social rents have risen in Wales over the five years to September 2022, contributing to an increase in the proportion of social housing tenants living in ‘in-work poverty’.
Read more about the UK and Welsh Governments’ actions on housing.