The top strategic issues for Welsh housing leaders in 2021

Change is constant. The last 12 months have been more transformative than we could have ever imagined. But what’s next? Economic challenges, policy drivers and  environmental targets are shaping our future strategies.

Ahead of our Wales Leadership Forum taking place on Wednesday 26 May, we explore the top strategic issues for Welsh housing leaders in 2021.

The zero-carbon challenge

Zero carbon emissions from Welsh homes by 2050. That’s the target. And while the Innovative Housing Programme kick-started the work back in 2017, challenges remain for both new build and retrofitting of existing homes. The decarbonisation agenda requires significant investment to decarbonise the electricity and heat supply to homes across Wales, as well as work towards wider goals to tackle fuel poverty and generate other benefits towards a prosperous, green and equal Wales.  Environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets are at the forefront of lenders’ minds and there is an opportunity for the sector to place these themes front and centre as we revisit strategic plans post-pandemic. Chris Jofeh, Chair of the Decarbonisation of Homes in Wales Advisory Group will be discussing the challenges and opportunities facing the sector to achieve the Welsh Government targets.

Supply and investment

Priorities to drive Wales’ ‘COVID recovery‘ include overcoming inequalities that have been particularly highlighted over the last 12 months.  Recovery must include the provision of quality, affordable housing and jobs that pay well.

The housing sector remains an attractive opportunity for investment - with the recent £85m refinance deal by Monmouthshire Housing Association demonstrating – the first direct investment by  Pension Protection Fund (PPF).  Continue the conversation with Bank of England’s Agent for Wales, Stephen Hicks as we debate social housing in the context of emerging economic outlook.

The future of work

How we work has changed. The pandemic challenged us to think and do differently – with clear guidelines as to what we can and can’t do. As we begin to unlock and less direction from Government is being given, decisions move to leadership to choose what the world of work will look like in their businesses.  We don’t yet know what that will look like, but some are paving the way and acting now. Loreburn Housing Association in south west Scotland recently launched a new operating model that introduces remote working from community hubs with no retained head office.  Staff will work from their homes and hubs to meet the needs of rural communities in a more responsive way.  The Scottish Housing Regulator has overseen and supported the Loreburn decision-making process and other housing associations in Scotland are now making similar decisions to release invaluable resources by not retaining office facilities. Hear from Loreburn chief executive Lorraine Usher on how she was supported by colleagues and customer to be one of the first to make the move.

Data-led decision making

Throughout 2020, we saw better performance from organisations who made targeted decisions backed up by reliable data. This year, sector leaders will need to be clear on their data strategy to leverage insight from across all areas of their business and their market to see what's possible, how they could be performing and how to make it happen. Arturo Dell, Housemark’s Data and Product Development Director will share best practice on the use of data to drive decision making, as well as the importance of data quality, protection, and compliance.

If you’re ready to make a difference, we’re ready for you. Join peers and partners from across the housing sector to discuss and debate what’s next for Wales. Our Wales Leadership Forum will take place virtually on Wednesday 26 May at 9:30am-12:30pm. Housemark members can register for their place here. If you’re not a Housemark member but are interested in joining us contact kirsty.wells@housemark.co.uk.

By Emily Dixon

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