Landlords increasingly offer employment support to tenants – but if we’re to avoid wasting their time and money, that needs to be underpinned by the best possible evidence. Brian Robson from JRF explains more about a new partnership between HACT and JRF that aims to assemble this evidence base.
Last year, Joseph Rowntree Foundation launched our plan to Solve UK Poverty. It called for a new consensus that poverty in the UK is real, matters to all of us, and can be solved. We all have a vital role to play, as governments, businesses and employers, service providers, landlords, investors and citizens.
Clearly, the most important role landlords can play is to deliver affordable, secure, high-quality housing. But we all know that social landlords’ role is often much wider, often encompassing community development, providing financial inclusion services, and employment support.
It’s this last function that JRF are particularly interested in. The introduction of Universal Credit is likely to increase the number of people actively seeking work, so this is particularly important at present. But at the same time, we know the reduction in social rents has put budgets under pressure and led some landlords to review their ‘non-core’ services.
That’s why JRF is working with HACT to assemble a solid evidence base on what works when it comes to landlord support to get tenants into work. We are offering to match-fund randomised control trials (RCTs) of employment interventions, with HACT as research delivery partner.
RCTs are the ‘gold standard’ of evidence. They give us robust evidence of the effectiveness of interventions, allowing landlords to decide whether the support they’re offering is worth funding in its current state, needs tweaking, or needs replacing altogether with a new approach.
JRF and HACT want to run a programme of these trials across the UK, and JRF is offering to fund half the cost. What’s in it for landlords?
- The chance to lead the sector in the production of robust evidence and work with respected partners in housing innovation and social policy
- A bespoke report on your intervention, allowing you to take important decisions based on robust evidence of your intervention’s effectiveness
- Half the cost of the trial funded by JRF
Above all, these trials are about the chance to ensure that we’re all doing what we can to solve poverty. We know that work is the most important route out of poverty, though not a guaranteed one. No-one wants to waste tenants’ time (or rent) on interventions that won’t work. But without the best possible evidence, that might be exactly what we’re doing – though with the best of intentions. By assembling a robust evidence base that demonstrates the effectiveness of interventions, we can improve outcomes for all concerned.
Brian Robson is Policy & Research Programme Manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.