Cardiff hub helps UK-wide effort to shape housing policy

Welsh housing experts, including WISERD academics, are set to take a leading role in a new UK-wide effort designed to shape UK policy and tackle chronic housing problems.

The Glasgow-based UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) is a joint collaboration between ten universities and three non-higher education organisations. Staff are located at hubs across the UK in Glasgow, Sheffield, London, Reading, Cardiff and Belfast.

The Centre has been operating since 1st August and was officially launched at a networking event at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in London yesterday (18th October).

Experts from Cardiff University, Dr Peter Mackie (Chair of WISERD’s Housing Research Network), Dr Scott Orford and Dr Bob Smith, will spearhead the Wales contribution working alongside housing charities, private sector organisations and other Welsh universities.

“Housing is one of the most fundamentally important issues in the UK and remains one of the main policy challenges facing national and devolved governments,” according to Dr Peter Mackie, who heads-up the Cardiff-based Welsh hub.

Housing provides jobs, it shapes communities, it meets basic human needs for shelter and it affects the environment.

“The CaCHE will allow policymakers to benefit from the best independent evidence to help them take the action needed to tackle housing problems.

“The Welsh hub in Cardiff brings together policymakers, third sector organisations, private sector and academia to identify and fill evidence gaps in order to inform Welsh housing policy and practice,” he added.

Housing is a key part of the economy – it’s estimated that more than a fifth of household spending goes on rent, mortgage payments, home repairs, maintenance and improvements. The availability, cost and design of housing impacts on people’s aspirations, their health and wellbeing, and even their children’s education. Failure of housing markets often lead to wider economic problems, as well as poverty and homelessness.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Centre brings some of the UK’s leading experts together to focus on seven key areas. These include: the impact of housing on the economy; understanding housing markets; housing choice; housing poverty; neighbourhood design; the impact on housing as a result of multi-level governance; and homelessness.

Dr Mackie added: “It is a privilege to be involved in the Welsh Hub and to be working with colleagues here in Cardiff and in hubs across the rest of the UK.”

At yesterday’s event, Director and Principal Investigator, Professor Ken Gibb from the University of Glasgow provided more information about the programme of work that will be undertaken, including major new research projects, a UK wide knowledge exchange network within the sector, and support for early career researchers.

Lord Bob Kerslake, former head of the Home Civil Service and Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government, is the Chair of the International Advisory Board. He said: “After months of planning and preparation, Ken Gibb and his team are now embarking on important research on housing in the UK, an area that is widely and correctly seen to be a sector of the economy and society that is not working for too many people, in too many places and with too many wider negative consequences.

“I wish them well and look forward to the new international advisory board playing a major role in their work.”