Social housing plays a key role in providing affordable housing for vulnerable and low income households. The wider determinants of health such as housing (in terms of quality and supply), education, employment and environment may contribute to less healthy lives. Factors such as smoking, drinking/substance misuse, poor diet, and a lack of physical activity are also influenced by mental wellbeing, which can be low if these determinants are poor. The association between good, healthy, secure and warm housing has a known association with better health outcomes and better personal subjective well-being.
Most social housing properties are let on lifetime tenancies and at rents set below market rent levels (the rent that private landlords charge). The allocation of housing is through a waiting list system, and is made available to those who are most in need – usually those who are homeless, severely overcrowded or whose current home is unsuitable for health reasons.
Increasingly, as pressures on the general availability of affordable homes within the housing market have increased any social housing that becomes available tends to be allocated to the most vulnerable in our society – people with health problems, complex social needs and on low incomes. Under current legislation, being unable to afford to buy a house or rent within the private market is not, on its own, sufficient indicator of housing need and does not mean social housing will be available.
Welfare Reforms have meant that for many unemployed or low income families, whether in the social and private housing sectors, access to many state benefits has been reduced or removed completely. Where they are still awarded benefit levels are frozen, whilst housing costs rise. As well as overall squeezes on household finances, the Welfare Reforms and moves to Universal Credit mean that the housing element of benefits payments are paid directly to the claimant, where previously they were paid to the landlord. This could lead to an increase in people falling into rent arrears, and ultimately a rise in homelessness.
The impact of Welfare Reforms and the new Housing (Wales) Act 2014 are particularly felt by young, single people under the age of 35 who are unemployed or in low wage employment. Housing benefit is restricted to the single room rate which is not sufficient to cover renting homes of their own and the only affordable option is shared housing. However, there is no availability of shared housing within the social housing sector, and work to improve the standard of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) across the area has reduced the availability of shared housing in the private sector. Improvements to private housing stock often result in an increase in market rents.
In February 2021, the spare room subsidy/bedroom tax reduced housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit payments for 694 recipients in Conwy County Borough and 728 recipients in Denbighshire. This was 15.3% of all recipients of those benefits in Conwy County Borough and Denbighshire who were housed in the social rented sector. The reduction isn’t applicable to tenants in the private rented sector.
At 31st March 2019, there were 12,551 dwellings within the social housing sector in the area (6,742 in Conwy County Borough and 5,809 in Denbighshire). This was 132 for every 1,000 households, which was significantly below the all-Wales level of 174 for every 1,000 households (Conwy County Borough: 127 for every 1,000 households, Denbighshire: 139 for every 1,000 households). Social need is increasingly outstripping social housing supply.
Most of the area’s general needs social housing stock has at least three-bedrooms (53% overall, with similar proportions in both Conwy County Borough and Denbighshire). This is higher than the all-Wales figure (46%). Overall less than 15% of stock is in one-bedroomed accommodation, which limits the opportunities for tenants to downsize if they are affected by caps on housing benefits due to under occupation in their existing accommodation (the so-called ‘bedroom tax’).
The under supply of one bedroomed accommodation in the housing stock makes it difficult to find adequate social housing for some of the most vulnerable people in housing need, including those who have mental health issues, recovering addicts (see our ‘people making healthy lifestyle choices‘ topic for further information), veterans and ex-offenders (see our ‘equality, diversity and community cohesion‘ topic for further information). Single men in particular are disadvantaged by the lack of one bedroom properties.
There are currently three main problem areas within Denbighshire: the need for adapted housing; large families in need and a one bed flat crisis.
The main social housing providers in the area are Cartrefi Conwy and Denbighshire Council. Cartrefi Conwy was the company formed in 2008 when Conwy County Borough Council underwent the stock-transfer process. Together they provide 57% of all social housing in the area. Other major providers are Clwyd Alyn Housing Association (13%), North Wales Housing Association (12%), Grwp Cynefin (9%) and Wales and West Housing (6%).
 Please note: We are no longer able to calculate financial impact from DWP data
 Does not include sheltered housing, hostels or Extra Care provision
 Source: social landlord stock and rents data collection, Welsh Government
Social housing stock has increased by only 9% – about 950 dwellings – in the almost 30 years since 1991. Housing stock in the private sector (rented and owner occupied) increased by 28% or about 19,700 dwellings in the same period. This has led to a proportional decrease in the amount of social housing available within the overall housing stock, and has meant that social provision has had to focus on those in the very greatest need, and affordability alone is no longer a criterion for acceptance to local housing waiting lists. As the route to social housing has closed down for those who a generation ago would have been eligible for council housing, for a growing number of people finding a suitable home they can afford has become increasingly difficult.
Homeless presentations have become more complex as other services which previously helped support vulnerable residents have reduced in size and scope. There has been an increase in the proportion of households that require assistance from the local authority that contain people with mental health or other health problems; people with alcohol or drug dependency problems; those with chaotic lifestyles.
Since 1996 nearly 1,850 social housing properties have been sold in Conwy County Borough and Denbighshire under right-to-buy schemes. Though some of this stock has been replaced this has fallen short of a direct one-for-one replacement. Over all this has depleted the stock available to meet social housing need.
 1991 Census, Office for National Statistics; dwelling stock estimates at 31st March 2020, Welsh Government
In the new Housing (Wales) Act 2014, which came into force 1st April 2015, new responsibilities regarding homelessness prevention where given to local authorities and their partners. It places a duty on local authorities to work with people who are at risk of losing their home within 56 days to help find a solution to their problems and hopes to prevent 3 out of 4 people at risk of homelessness from losing their home. This duty is towards all seeking help, not just those with a local connection.
Demand for help with homelessness under the terms of the new Act has increased slightly whilst the overall amount of casework involved in preventative work has increased more significantly.
Because the provision of social housing is now concentrated on the most vulnerable individuals and families, it can often concentration these groups in the same area. This can create neighbourhoods which are isolated from the community at large, increasing levels of social exclusion and the risk of antisocial behaviour. Research by Shelter draws a link between deprived neighbourhoods and reduced life chances, meaning that children who grow up in such areas can lack the resources, reasons, skills and confidence to move on.
Poor housing and homelessness (an extreme form of social exclusion) is a driver of poor personal well-being, and affects – and is affected by – poor health. As the Wales Centre for Public Policy has said, responses to homelessness during the Covid-19 pandemic could offer learning and effective practices for preventing and managing homelessness over the longer term.
The context for homelessness prevention work has changed since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the ‘no-one left out’ approach resulting in over 12,400 people being supported into temporary accommodation across Wales since March 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic has therefore provided a much clearer picture of the scale of previously hidden homelessness in Wales, as well as the previously unmet support needs. This has led to increased investment from the Welsh Government, with over £185m invested in housing support and homelessness services – and a record £250m in social housing in 2021 alone. Denbighshire County Council have for the first time this year, managed to access the Social Housing Grant with £1.4m ring-fenced for 2021 to 2022 and there is access to bid for wider funding of £7.1m for 2022 to 2023.
Conwy and Denbighshire Councils are working on Rapid Rehousing Plans which will be finalised by the end of September 2022. Rapid Rehousing is about taking a housing-led approach to rehousing people that are experiencing homelessness, making sure they reach settled housing as quickly as possible rather than staying in temporary accommodation for too long.
Over the next five years we expect to see removal of prolonged and potentially damaging spells in temporary accommodation. We expect to see the development of a systematic and strategic process that links housing development, support and supply to housing need. Doing so will enable allocation processes and Private Rented Sector access points that focus on getting households experiencing homelessness into appropriate settled homes and target support to meet their needs.
 Chapter 5, Social Housing and Spatial Segregation, The Future of Social Housing, Shelter, 2008.
Housing support for young people was discussed at length by people; some of whom feel that rental accommodation is becoming unaffordable. They want to see improved access to good quality affordable housing, including social housing. Redevelopment of empty properties, including repurposing spaces that are no longer used (e.g. office space, dwellings above shops), in place of building new homes could be an opportunity. This could also mitigate people’s concerns that the space between towns and villages is reducing as new housing developments are built.
Homelessness is seen as a factor in deprivation and so too housing quality. Poor housing has been highlighted by people as having a causal relationship with lower life expectancy.
Knowledge gaps being identified. However, we do need to look at the housing needs of vulnerable, discriminated or disadvantaged groups, such as the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller groups, ex-offenders and so on.
Conwy and Denbighshire’s Gypsy and Traveller Assessment (GTAA) 2021, which considers the short and longer term accommodation needs over the lifetime of the Replacement Local Development Plan (RLDP) up to 2033, has been submitted to Welsh Government for approval. The new GTAA 2021 is a result of following Welsh Government’s GTAA methodology guidance and has sought to understand the accommodation needs of the Gypsy and Traveller population in both counties, through a combination of desk-based research and stakeholder engagement with stakeholders and the gypsy and traveller community. Once formally published, the findings will be incorporated into our analyses here. Please see our Equality, diversity and Community Cohesion topic.
Whilst we do not have local evidence within this assessment about vulnerable migrants (asylum seekers and refugees), the Deeds Not Words report recently spoke to 830 employees from housing organisations. The report states that most organisations said they didn’t work in dispersal areas, but in cases where organisations did (two thirds) some provided an insight into their current practice. A quarter of organisations in dispersal areas did not have links with refugee organisations. Several referred to Syrian Resettlement Scheme (Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme) and others provided great examples of providing housing through partnerships with one organisation leasing housing to a refugee organisation.
This topic does not give consideration to climate and eco consideration needed (mitigation and adaptation).
 Tai Pawb (2021. Deeds Not Words: A pledge to end racial Inequality in housing.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.