We launched RCT Homes yesterday, the community housing mutual - or housing cooperative - which tenants in Rhondda Cynon Taff voted to set up. Its £170 million investment programme will involve the installation of an estimated 5,000 new kitchens, 4,000 new bathrooms and 6,000 energy-efficient boilers. Other improvements will include extensive re-wiring, the installation of new central heating systems, improved security measures and work on roofs, chimneys and walls as well as a promised £1m a year on environmental enhancements.
The Community Housing Mutual model was developed by the co-operative movement in Wales with the support of the Welsh Assembly Government.
Earlier this year I launched a report that highlighted the unprecedented opportunities the introduction of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard would create.
RCT Homes is maximising these opportunities and creating new jobs, training opportunities, business contracts and major new investment in housing and related regeneration work.Around 170 jobs will be created through RCT Homes operations. RCT Homes has implemented community benefit clauses in its procurement contracts. Local businesses have bid for and win major contracts against competition from national companies leading to the creation of a total of 59 new local jobs.
RCT Homes has also tied its main contractors into using locally-based suppliers which will generate a total of 61 new jobs and training opportunities.
RCT Homes has been working with the Heads of the Valleys JobMatch initiative to maximise the impact the new job and training opportunities will have on the local employment situation.
RCT Homes itself has created 53 new jobs since it began operations at the end of last year, and took on 6 apprentices.
Torfaen tenants also voted to go down the community mutual route. This is a model approach that I believe others will follow to help regenerate our most disadvantaged communities.Reachinhg the Welsh Housing Quality Standard is not a one-off opportunity but an ongoing, long-term investment because not only do these new housing standards need to be reached, but they have to be maintained through a rolling programme of work.