The Welsh Government plans to publish its draft budget on 19 December and the final budget on 27 February 2024.
Invest in partnership with the PRS
A three-year indicative funding settlement for Housing Support Grant (HSG) should be provided which increases by at least inflation each year. Some of this money should be ring-fenced by local authorities for initiatives to engage with the private rented sector to tackle and avoid homelessness.
The HSG in 2022/23 was £167 million, a real terms cut of 12% from a decade ago. However, since Covid there has been unprecedented pressure on the housing sector, with the Welsh Government figures reporting a 7% increase in homelessness year on year.
Policy must be based on good data
Propertymark’s experience as a member of the stakeholder group for adequate housing, fair rents and affordability has reinforced our view that the data and evidence used to develop PRS housing policy is insufficient.
We are, again, calling for the implementation of a Welsh Housing Survey based on the English model, which would allow for comparisons between the two nations as well as providing more accurate insight to base policy on.
Support for energy efficiency
To meet the target of being net zero by 2050, landlords and homeowners need help to decarbonise their properties. The generally lower value and lower standards of energy efficiency in Welsh homes makes progress particularly challenging.
We believe home improvement loans, similar to those offered by Torfaen County Borough Council, are an example of good practice that could be replicated across Wales. The scheme offers interest free loans of up to £25,000 that is repaid over 5 years for landlords and 10 years for homeowners.
The biggest challenge to landlords and property agents is increasing costs from property taxes. We call on the Welsh Government to review the taxation regime and assess the impact on the sector.
We also advocate the exemption of new long-term rental properties from the 4% Land Transaction Tax (LTT) levy on additional homes. The Welsh Government should also consider wider access to grants and interest free loans available for private landlords to bring empty properties back into use.
We welcome the Help to Buy scheme which has helped first-time buyers into the market. However, more must be done to increase levels of homeownership and reduce social inequality in Wales.
Help to Buy should be extended to the second-hand home market, including older properties and new builds put back up for sale. Doing so will boost house sales and allow more first-time buyers to get onto the property ladder.
As in the rest of the UK, Wales has an expanding older population and budget plans must be put in place now to ensure their housing needs can be met.
Propertymark supports incentives for right-sizing, which will mean more older people are in suitable housing and encourage movement in the housing market. This could be done by offering an LTT exemption for ‘last-time' buyers looking to downsize.