21 December, 2023

2023 HACT Round-up: Creating impact across the sector and beyond

2023 has been an incredible year for HACT which has seen impact created wider than ever before, award winning innovations and not forgetting recognition for 20 years of transformation for our Chief Executive.
As we approach its end, we want to reflect on some of the ways we have worked with communities and organisations to drive change and push the agenda for housing across the sector and beyond.  

A message from Andrew van Doorn, HACT Chief Executive:


“As we reflect on the impactful strides made in 2023, our strategic vision for 2024 emphasises a commitment to
longterm thinking and collaboration with not just those in the sector, but organisations beyond the realm of social housing who can bring value and support in transformation. 

We understand that chasing quick wins and focusing purely on financial outcomes can narrow our perspective, and by thinking more longer-term, we can better visualise our impact on individuals and their communities.  

Social impact will continue to be a priority, ensuring we are moving the agenda forward and innovating in this space and that the wellbeing of individuals is at the core of new developments and projects we are working on.  

Going forward, we’re going to build on our efforts in facilitating collaboration between the NHS and housing to tackle healthcare inequality.  

We are looking to expand our impact to meet the challenges of the retrofit, creating more fuel-efficient homes that are fit for purpose.  

And something we’re always excited about is increasing the scope of our collaboration through our Centre, new partnerships and exploring associations to make sure we can achieve our aims in a considered, safe manner that maximises social impact. 

We want to say a huge thank you to our collaborators for all their insight and work, and to you for your unwavering support in helping us shape social housing for over 60 years, bringing organisations, individuals, and communities together to help people thrive – and we can’t wait to do more.”

Innovation

Fuel Fund 2023 - 24

2023 saw the successful rollout of the HACT Fuel Fund 23-24.

This year, high energy and living costs remained an ongoing and unsustainable pressure affecting millions of households in the UK. The HACT Fuel Fund provided vital assistance to those in need, making a tangible impact on households and communities across the country.  As with all our work, the positive impact reaches far beyond the financial, with a significant increase in mental wellbeing noted by the following testimonies:

“Excellent scheme you have no idea the pressure this has taken off me and the difference that will make to my overall health. Can’t thank everyone involved enough”

“Before I had the help from the support scheme, I was very scared and felt really vulnerable. Now I am able to answer phone calls easily and feel really good.”

Find out more

Spring

> £456,040 debt written off
> 1,339 households benefitted 

In the early months of 2023, HACT oversaw a successful write-off of fuel debt across Scotland. We worked collaboratively with 29 social landlords to support 1,339 households by distributing £456,040 of financial support in the form of fuel and cash vouchers, as well as writing off larger energy debts. 

May - June

> Amount Distributed: £339,330.40
> Average per Household: £216.41
> Households benefitted: 1,568

Through the distribution of £339,330.40 in vouchers over a six-week period, 1,568 households received critical relief.

The accumulation of debt caused by fuel poverty affects households all year round, which is why we felt it crucial that some intervention took place in the summer months. By providing some financial respite, we’ve effectively empowered households to meet their needs and collectively improve physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

This was achieved by working efficiently and collaboratively with a network of 70 social housing providers.

November and 2024

> Amount Distributed: £151,459
> Remaining Total: £2,848,541

The winter months are an incredibly difficult time for many households.

The drop in temperature accompanied by the rampant rise in fuel prices has had a devastating effect, increasing fuel poverty by 14.4%. The government projects that by the end of the year, 3.54 million people will be unable to adequately heat their home.

Since the 20th of November this year, HACT continued its long-standing commitment to community wellbeing securing £3,000,000 to be distributed over 12 months, with £151,459 already reaching residents in need.

Our fund will extend into the near year for at least the next six months.

As HACT reflects on the achievements of 2023, we would like to say a huge thank you to all the organisations, the communities, and the individuals we’ve worked with on this project. We remain committed to building on our track record of fuel fund distribution in 2024.

Award-winning Retrofit Credits

2023 proved to be a year of success for HACT’s innovative Retrofit Credits service.

In November, the initiative won the prestigious Ashden Award for Energy Innovation in the UK along with our partners, PNZ Carbon.

In addition to being an acknowledgement of the incredible amount of work put into the service, this award underscores the fact that we view collaboration with other organisations as an essential part of the way we operate, and the best way to ensure sector-wide advancements.

Establishing the impact in 2022

This year, we were able to verify the impact that Retrofit Credits had in the last 6 months of 2022. We put our methodologies behind the service to the test and are delighted to say that in the latter half of 2022, we…

  • retrofitted 6716 homes
  • reduced carbon emission output by 1481 tonnes
  • generated £100,000 that goes straight back to housing associations
  • generated £867,635 in Social Value for residents and communities

…and all within the first 12 months.

Growth in 2023

Keen to expand our output and maximise positive outcomes, our projected impact for 2023 is as follows…

  • 17,500 homes
  • £950,000 of income generated
  • £6,600,000 of social value generated

This year has seen more and more local areas across the UK get involved, with 1229 postcodes engaging with the scheme, up from 722 in its pilot year.

Looking to 2024

We’ve done some incredible work this year, and we’re looking to ramp up our efforts in 2024.

We’re looking to triple the 6,716 homes we retrofitted in the pilot; we’re looking to generate millions of pounds to help more homes to become energy efficient, and we’re looking to generate tens of millions in social value to enrich the lives of communities across the country.

Although we’ve experienced substantial success with our current way of working, we’re looking to hone in on the locality of the project.

We can do this by engaging with more local services, engaging with more local authorities, and expanding our methodology to cater for civic and public, non-residential buildings like schools, universities, hospitals, office spaces and government buildings.

2023 has been an incredible year for the retrofit credits initiative, and our focus is the bigger picture and long-term benefit. By looking to the future and measuring Social Value Impact as opposed to short-term wins and income generation, we’re contributing to an infrastructure that can meet the challenge of net zero in a safe and sustainable way whilst allow communities to thrive in the process.

 

Take a look

Social impact in procurement

The influence and effectiveness of our social value framework extends beyond the housing space, and 2023 saw a year of further development in our partnerships in the procurement sector.

Our collaboration with LHC Procurement and ProcureCo underlines our broader approach to social value; as we collaborate with influential organisations in procurement, we aim to put social consciousness into practise, addressing societal challenges and delivering sustainable, impactful change.

Discover more

LHC Procurement

This year, we forged a strategic partnership with LHC Procurement, a non-profit public sector construction framework provider, aiming to facilitate the creation of a comprehensive social value strategy. As a non-profit, LHC allocates surplus funds to community benefit initiatives and client rebates based on framework usage.

Recognising LHC’s diverse operations and regional spread, we proposed a robust, yet flexible social value strategy designed to drive future business activities.

This strategy, embedded in LHC’s overall vision of “Improving lives and places through quality procurement solutions,” positions social value as a central element, strengthens our collaborative ethos, and showcases LHC’s commitment to enhancing added value and maximising community benefit from procurement activities.

We are proud of our work with LHC on its social value strategy, which stands out as an example of our commitment to maximising positive social value impact on communities through working with other organisations.

Procure Co.

Similar to our work with LHC, our partnership with ProcureCo allowed for the development of a social value framework that impacts local communities by providing safe, affordable housing for those in need.
By working with Procure Co on their social value strategy, we’ve helped facilitate another organisation’s steps towards making genuine social value impact in their space, helping them to reinvest and create opportunities for the individuals and communities they work with.
In addition to this, we were a part of the social value advisory group for ProcureCo’s platform, a new pre-tender market platform that connects buyers and suppliers in the social housing and public sector.
The platform’s aim is to enable procurement individuals to connect directly with relevant businesses and the people within those businesses so they can communicate, create a dialogue and collaborate on future contract opportunities before tenders appear on tender portals.

Collaboration

Health & Housing Integrated Care Programme

HACT has always stood at the intersection of housing and health, recognising that bringing both anchor institutions closer together has multiple mutually beneficial and positive outcomes, including reduced hospital admissions, better care provision, and an overall increase in physical and mental wellbeing.

Launch of the Hospital to Home Discharge Protocol

At our Health and Housing conference this year we were delighted to launch a new resource in collaboration with NHS England’s Learning Disability and Autism programme. We were commissioned by NHS England to work with local systems to co-develop a flexible set of hospital to home discharge resources, intended to be adapted to suit local needs and circumstances – the result is the Hospital to Home discharge protocol – which is now being adopted and implemented across several systems across the UK.

Black Country ICB

In the midlands, we began work with the housing association whg, to implement a system that brings both health and housing together under one cohesive system to improve patient outcomes.

Our unique position in both the Health and Housing sectors allowed us to work with whg to deliver a social prescribing programme to better meet the needs of households.

Sensing an opportunity to have impact on a wider scale, HACT embarked on a programme of collaboration with the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB) to bring more Housing Associations into the fold, with forums held over four separate days between April and June.

Tapiwa Mtemachani, Director of Transformation and Partnership ,NHS Black Country ICB shared the following insights on the need for a cohesive system:


“Nearly 40% of our population or patients are drawn from a social housing background. That’s quite a substantial proportion, which necessitated that conversation with housing providers.

The first port of call in addressing healthy life expectancy through prevention is having a roof over your head. That’s why working with housing is the way forward. That’s the way we’re going to address health inequalities. That’s the way we’re going to create value in the way we commission services across the black country. That’s the way we’re going to increase productivity by recruiting locally.”

Connie Jennings, Director of Stronger Communities, whg highlighted the impact on health outcomes:

What housing has brought to the health agenda is a realisation: if people’s basic needs aren’t met, then they can’t worry about the things that health want them to worry about. What we’ve managed to do is humanise our health colleagues, enable to get them on the care pathway and improve their overall health outcomes. It improves life and increases the quality of life that people have.”

Looking ahead, we’re anticipating the collaboration bearing fruit in the form of positive patient outcomes, and a more cohesive and equitable system that meets need in a three dimensional and comprehensive way.

Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust

Heading south to Sussex, the Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust (SPFT) were facing a lot of challenges, as the local system struggled to bring together the housing and health into its working processes.
High numbers of individuals ready for discharge were met with housing issues, the risk of homelessness, and a lack of suitable and quality housing.
HACT’s expertise in both health and housing allowed SPFT to bring these two elements together under one cohesive system. Our high standing in both areas alongside a knack for collaboration led us to:

> Support the system to adopt a more strategic perspective
> Develop a tangible programme of work, including the creation of a comprehensive mental health and housing strategy
> Leave SPFT and their partners with a clear path forward
> Embed housing expertise within the new system
> Co-produce housing policies and processes with housing colleagues within the local authorities
> Improve patient input and agency

The results have been wholly positive and very impactful, with a significant reduction in discharge delays from inpatient services due to housing barriers:

> Last year, SPFT were operating at 20-25% delays
> This had an associated cost of £5-£6m
> This year, delays have reduced to a figure of 8-9%

SPFT chair Peter Molyneux had this to say about the work:
We are incredibly proud of this work. We are already seeing positive results including people’s housing outcomes significantly improving. Through partnership work we are helping to jointly prevent homelessness and far fewer people are using inpatient services because they have an appropriate place to live.”
Looking ahead, we’ve left SPFT with the tools to expand the housing team across Sussex, build on successes and continue to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of their patients.

Centre for Excellence in Community Investment

Set up by HACT in 2018, the Centre for Excellence in Community Investment was built to achieve the following aims:

  • provide a platform for promoting the importance of community investment both inside and outside of the social housing sector
  • provide a mechanism for community investment professionals to share and develop their practice
  • ensure that community investment underpins social housing organisations as they evolve their services and relationships with their customers and communities

We’re proud to say that in 2023, the Centre has continued its excellent work in this space, using its networks of communities and organisations to tackle some of the biggest issues facing housing associations and the individuals involved with them.

Below is a list of some of the Centre’s biggest achievements this year.

London Food Insecurity Network

Earlier this year, The Centre, in collaboration with Peabody and The Felix Project, launched the London Food Insecurity Network in response to an escalating need for food-related support across the capital.

Recognising the critical need for long-term, strategic, and collaborative responses to address food inequality, the London Food Insecurity Network invites London-based housing associations to join forces in a strategic partnership.

Our recently concluded Winter Markets, a collaborative effort, showcased impressive figures:

  • 7 tonnes of food delivered (equivalent to 35,700 KG)
  • 85,000 meals provided worth £107,100
  • 84 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide emissions saved
  • 49 successful events involving 17 different organisations

These impressive figures outline the strength of collective action in combating food insecurity.

In addition to income and output, our focus remains on the Social Value generated, and creating a lasting impact on the communities we work alongside.

 

Centre Connects Meetings

HACT’s Centre Connects initiative has proven instrumental in fostering collaborative efforts among various organisations, housing associations, and networks, showcasing the impact that collaboration can have in addressing pressures faced by communities in social housing.

Earlier this month, we held our second Centre Connects of the year. The participating groups divided into three regional clusters: the North, Midlands, and the South to discuss initiatives and ideas to foster a sense of community and collaboration.

In the North, housing associations like First Choice Homes, LIV Housing, and Hillcrest shared their strategies and initiatives to tackle challenges related to heating costs, energy efficiency, and social wellbeing.

The Midlands session featured discussions led by organizations such as Orbit, MTVH, Futures Housing Group, and Longhurst, focusing on residents’ winter support, energy advice, automation for damp and mould, and collaborative opportunities.

Meanwhile, the South’s discussions cantered around activities throughout winter, including warm hubs, food pantries, cost-of-living/hardship support, “Warm Winter Wednesdays”, befriending programmes, winter engagement events, and partnerships with organisations like Pocket Power and LEAP, who provide support for high bills.

This collaborative approach aims to amplify the impact of each organization’s initiatives and share valuable insights to better serve communities.

All organisations involved expressed gratitude for the opportunity to share and expressed eagerness to continue fostering such collaborative efforts in the future.

We want to say a huge thank you to everyone that gave their time and effort to create such an important collaborative space.

Find out more about the Centre

Centre for Excellence in Community Investment Conference

At this year’s Centre for Excellence in Community Investment Conference in September, we facilitated networking and collaboration sessions with organisations from across the housing sector and beyond with a view to expanding our collaborative network and maximising our positive impact.

We hosted six action-based workshops revolving around important topics with a view to sparking creative thinking and generating impactful solutions.

Workshops revolved around the following questions:

  • > How can we work together to reduce food insecurity in the places we operate?
  • > How can our sector be a more effective partner for Black and Minority Ethnic led community organisations through community investment?
  • > How can we work in partnership to catalyse community led social action projects, with a focus on intergenerational activities?
  • > How can we collaborate to deliver community centres and hubs that benefit more local people?
  • > How can community investment tackle health inequalities and deliver health creation in place?
  • > How do we work together to increase digital confidence at a place-based level

These workshops served as a platform for insightful discussions and collaborative problem-solving, marking a significant step forward in our collective efforts to create positive change in the communities we serve. For a more detailed breakdown of the outcomes for each topic, you can read our comprehensive report here.

Looking Forward: Community Centre Value Research

Looking ahead to 2024, The Centre is embarking on a collaborative initiative with the Community Centres Network to establish a comprehensive framework that measures and communicates the social value generated by community centres.

This is a hugely exciting initiative, and one that we worked incredibly hard to secure funding for. Leveraging the insights gained from meetings within the Community Centres Network and building on the momentum of the Better Social Housing Review, we’re aiming to quantify the impact of these community hubs with a key objective in mind: to empower network members to articulate the positive influence of community centres both internally and externally, showcase the value of multi-agency collaborations, and present a compelling business case for continued investment in these essential hubs.

We’re collaborating with a number of different organisations on this project, including Clarion, Places for People, Sovereign, Yorkshire Housing, Home Group, Orbit, and Bourneville Village Trust.

Age Friendly Social Housing Programme

This year, we marked the positive impact of and learning from our Age Friendly Social Housing Programme in our Year 1 Report.

Launched by HACT in 2022, the Age Friendly Social Housing Programme brings housing associations together to work collaboratively towards improving outcomes for over 50s across the localities.

We’re delighted to report successes on multiple fronts, including improvements to resident safety, independence, and wellbeing, as well as co-operation between HA and cross-sector partners.

A group of residents sat around a table enjoying a 'Get ready for winter' event

Here are some of our biggest highlights:

  • 762 residents have so far been supported by activities and services
  • 104 residents have been supported by the Fuel Funds directed to Age Friendly partners and places, with £144,012.20 of energy debt for over 50s being written off
  • 130 residents have been supported with money advice, with over £12,850 of additional grants and benefits being accessed
  • 595 community conversations have taken place to identify local priorities
  • 95 local partnerships have been created across VCS, statutory and business
  • 27 housing associations are now engaged across the three areas

The impact of Age Friendly has reached far beyond just the numerical, with the establishment of programmes and interventions including:

Digital inclusion skills courses aimed at bringing residents closer to essential services, leading to an increase in confidence and sense of belonging;HandyPerson Plus, which provides residents over 50 with low-intervention household maintenance support, promoting the independence, safety and wellbeing of residents; and the delivery of a series of successful Getting Ready for Winter events, attended by 180 residents and 22 community organisations.

One resident had this to say about the programme’s impact:

“Thanks very very much for paying off my electricity and gas debts. I have been depressed for a while because of these debts. I am happy that l will be able to turn on the heating this winter. God bless you very much.”

We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all our partners across the programme, particular our key strategic funders, The National Lottery and Fusion21, as well as Stonewater, Yorkshire Housing, Wandle, Clarion Futures, Peabody, SNG, Hexagon and Southern; our work together has generated incredible social impact across 3 deserving communities.

As we look to 2024, we’re seeking to build on the positive impact of the programme, adapt our approach based on what we’ve learned, and share our findings across the housing network so our sector can continue to travel in a positive direction.

Find out more

Insight

Social Value Impact

HACT ‘s continuation to pioneer the measurement and implementation of social value hasn’t stopped this year.  We’ve supported hundreds of organisations from Housing Associations, to Contractors, to Charities and Local Authorities, guiding them through their social value journey.

One of our key aims has been to ensure organisations are showing their true impact – the expansion of the Social Value Bank to 88 values means that organisations can measure beyond the traditional metrics, making sure those tasked with measuring are thinking about the impact on the individual, something we continue to be passionate about.

And the impact of this support is impressive.

This year, using our online platform, you have achieved remarkable results.
You have:

  • Generated an impressive total Social Value of £608,000,000,
  • A Direct Wellbeing Value of £166,200,000
  • Impacted the lives of 120,300 individuals

Our Social Value Insight platform has seen considerable growth, with a 740% increase in subscribers since the end of 2021.

These remarkable figures show that we’re committed to long-term thinking and capturing the bigger-picture impact of change.

Take a look

Birdseye view of street

Supporting the sector

Sharing expertise and insight is a big part of our mission; our commitment to knowledge dissemination and community building is evident in the array of events we held throughout this year. We hosted 14 free webinars with a total of over 1,700 attendees, organised 3 online conferences that drew nearly 1,500 attendees, and successfully hosted our first in-person Community Investment conference since COVID which was fantastically well attended.

Our yearly LinkedIn totals make for encouraging reading, with an engagement rate five times higher than the average. We’ve also gained 2,335 new followers, which highlights the expanding reach of our initiatives in promoting positive change and community growth.

The HACT team have also given their time extensively across Housing and other sector events, conferences, roundtables and meetings to support and collaborate with those looking to push the Housing agenda and provide our expertise in helping transform and innovate to improve the lives of individuals.

 

 

We want to say a massive thank you to everyone who made this year an impactful one, we couldn’t do it without your support,
and we can’t wait to see what next year brings!