The value of social housing

By Michael McLaughlin, Social Impact Lead Scotland - on 16/09/2020

Today, we’re proud to join with SFHA and the Scottish social housing sector to celebrate Scottish Housing Day.

In the light of the immediate impact of Covid-19 and the longer-term financial, social and health implications for tenants and housing associations alike, the value of social housing cannot be overestimated. The innovative ways in which housing associations have pivoted their operations in order to provide continued engagement and support within their communities has, at times, been truly remarkable. From remote working to welfare calls, online support programmes to staff redeployment and everything in between, the ability to create positive impact through their work has been demonstrated on a daily basis.  


As part of SFHA’s impact team, HACT is working collaboratively with 30 organisations to help the sector measure and demonstrate the value of social housing and understand the need for significant investment within Scottish Government’s forthcoming Affordable Housing Programme.  


Last week, the paper we researched and co-authored – The Impact of Social Housing: Economic, Social, Health and Wellbeing, which draws on the UK Social Value Bank – articulated the value of the Scottish social housing sector. The paper used an extensive literature review alongside case studies to show the economic and social impact of social housing for Scotland, including its role in reducing poverty and homelessness, improving health and wellbeing, and creating jobs and prosperity. 


The paper also demonstrated how this social impact aligns with the outcomes of Scotland’s National Performance Framework. It demonstrated the tangible benefits to our tenants and society that investment in our sector generates, and the consequent importance of us being able to measure, demonstrate, and advocate this impact for the sector.


SFHA have also been a part of the UK Social Value in Housing Taskforce, one of 22 organisations who have worked together to examine the current use of social value metrics within social housing and identify a roadmap for the future of social value in social housing. By working together, this roadmap will enable the social housing sector to use social value information to improve services, enhance decision-making and increase the impact we make. 


HACT is having conversations with numerous Scottish social housing organisations who want to get involved in implementing the roadmap. In doing so, they will help us to develop pioneering new wellbeing, economic and environmental values that speak to the business of social housing. 


Simultaneously, we are also working with the Social Insight Partnership in Scotland to design a bespoke social value toolkit for the Scottish social housing sector that we will be launching in October 2020. Covering areas such as tenancy support, environment improvements, procurement, and health and wellbeing, this toolkit will enable all SFHA members to measure and improve on areas of social value in their operations.  


Being able to analyse data and need in such challenging times has enabled social housing organisations to provide great support in their communities. Our toolkit will enable them to measure the social value they have created through this, providing further real and robust data to use in planning, budgeting and decision-making processes.


The launch of our social value toolkit is by no means the end of this journey for our impact work, quite the opposite; we are just starting this conversation and will continue to work with partner organisations to develop the use of impact Tools within Scotland. 


We’re proud to be working closely with the SFHA and the Lintel Trust to support the sector to improve and demonstrate their social value throughout Scotland by adopting social value metrics.  


In celebrating the value of social housing in Scotland, social housing organisations can use the UK Social Value Bank to understand what drives value not just in building new homes, but as they invest in communities, drive forward recovery post-pandemic, and improve services. 

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