Housing conditions is an important policy area, within the UK and internationally, with the quality of housing affecting health and the wider well-being of the population. The Welsh Government has a number of legislative obligations and strategic commitments that require evidence on housing conditions, including the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and The Fuel Poverty Strategy (2010). As such, the WHCS statistics will fill an evidence gap; they will be used to monitor the changing condition of the housing stock in Wales, to measure work being undertaken to the stock and to evaluate the impact of Welsh Government policies.
The Welsh Government conducted extensive user engagement during the development of the survey and production of the statistics; the statistical team actively sought input from policy officials and external stakeholders throughout. The Welsh Government has taken on board users’ views in the design of the survey and the dissemination of the statistics, including those gathered via an online user survey. The users we spoke to were positive about the way Welsh Government statisticians engaged with them.
We were not able to review the Headline report in full or the data tables as these were still in development at the time of the assessment. However, we reviewed an early draft of the Headline report. In general, the statistical commentary is presented clearly, and, where possible, the Headline report makes comparisons between the Welsh housing stock and housing conditions and those of other UK countries, and over time within Wales, which enhances the value of the statistics. To better support users’ interpretation of the statistics, key messages should be drawn out, either through an executive summary in the Headline report or modifying the report so it is shorter.
The Welsh Government collaborates effectively with UK and international housing statisticians. It has established links with housing statisticians in the Republic of Ireland; it is providing support and advice on building a business case for an Irish housing conditions survey. It meets regularly (every 2-3 months) with the housing condition leads in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to keep abreast of housing condition survey developments and outputs, and to discuss methodological improvements.