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Social Research

Evaluation of the Rural Housing Enablers (RHE) in Wales

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  • Release date: 17 January 2014
The evaluation explores the effectiveness of the RHE’s role, their management and the funding of these posts. It also looks at the barriers and opportunities that impact on their ability to deliver affordable homes in rural communities.

The ending of the current tranche of Welsh Government funding in March 2014 prompted an evaluation of the RHE Programme.


  • To assess the extent to which the RHE projects have acted as a direct link to rural communities and local stakeholders to identify and find potential resolutions to housing needs.
  • To evaluate the extent to which RHE projects have influenced the strategic landscape of affordable housing.
  • To provide conclusions and recommendations on the above including potential funding options going forward.

Key findings

  • RHEs successfully put in place the evidence and community engagement that are essential pre-requisites for delivery of rural affordable housing. Their input is valued by local authorities, housing associations and communities.
  • In six areas the RHEs have helped deliver 186 affordable homes since 2004, with a further 240 in the pipeline. Unfortunately there is a paucity of data on delivery by other routes.
  • It is universally considered that the loss of an existing RHE project would reduce the already low levels of rural affordable housing delivery.
  • The length of time for which a post has been existence and the time that an individual RHE has been employed appear to have a significant impact on outcomes and outputs. Six areas provided data on delivery and between them they had completed 186 units since the RHE posts started. Of this 89% of completions were in Gwynedd, Monmouthshire and Powys South, all areas where there has been a RHE in post since 2009.
  • It is perceived however that delivery is held back by a lack of capital funding, limited site supply, out of date local plans, planning policies that do not take account of financial viability and a lack of strategic leadership. All these issues can be influenced by but are outside the direct control of the RHEs.
  • This research recommends that a parallel approach is taken to improve delivery and retain the RHE posts. At a local level these include: adopting a delivery team approach that involves all partners co-ordinated by the RHE; and stronger strategic leadership by those managing and funding the RHE role. At Welsh Government level they include considering: targeting some of its capital funding for rural delivery; and amending planning policy to allow cross-subsidy on rural exception sites.


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