27 April, 2023

Social Value at HACT

As Michael McLaughlin steps into role of HACT’s Head of Social Value, he explores why social value is so important in the social housing sector and beyond.

Michael McLaughlin

Head of Social Value, HACT

HACT’s approach to Social Value

Social Value is the best measure to truly understand the impact and additional value of how our work benefits tenants and communities. HACT’s approach to social value especially focuses on measuring the impact on individual wellbeing.  At HACT, the measurement of social value goes much further than a figure derived from programmes and projects- it demonstrates the true impact of your work and the difference this makes to an individual.  If, as an organisation, your mission is to improve the lives of residents and communities, creating social value is crucial to ensuring this is not just a plan you produce but is embedded, evidenced and applied across your organisation.

Why measure social value?

Having spent the previous 19 years working within the social housing sector, all too often, I have heard that organisations wish the value of the work they do were better understood. Measuring social value is a huge opportunity for the social housing sector to do just that. For example, when joining HACT in 2020, I worked on a project with the Scottish housing sector to help support better impact measurement. Following the government’s affordable housing programme, targets were in place to achieve more social housing, but what difference would the increased social housing make on people’s lives? By measuring social value, this was no longer an assumption but evidence of a large variety of outcomes that would be achieved through increased social housing. Today there continues to be aspects of support provided in our communities through both housing and local and supply chain partners, which are ultimately based on impact, such as resident welfare and sustainment; through consistent and robust measurement, the actual value this work creates can be demonstrated and importantly optimised.

HACT’s well-being approach measures the well-being of individuals and is aligned to wider strategic approaches.

An example of the wider strategic approaches is how HACT’s well-being approach is aligned to includes the UN sustainable development goals. These look at a range of 17 different outcome pillars which have very similar focuses. The UK Social Value bank looks at how these wider approaches and frameworks can be measured by individual experiences. The work we’ve done in the Social Value Roadmap and on ‘The Impact of social housing’ paper we have not only proved that housing is a real driver for improvements in people in terms of their health and well-being, but that there is real value in measuring and developing this approach.

Thinking about the Better Social Housing Review released in December, it gave 7 recommendations for the social housing sector, the first one was to align to the core purpose of the organisation. Social value is a key way that organisations can not only show that alignment, but most importantly by measuring it, you can improve the outcomes that best align with your work. Exploring the 94 different outcomes of the UK Social Value Bank can give you a good idea of the different options there are to align real outcomes in improved individual wellbeing with your organisation’s purpose. This could include:

The opportunities are often much bigger than you might realise.

How does HACT measure social value?

Of course, individual wellbeing is at the core of HACT’s measurement through the UK Social Value Bank. The recognition  the bank has received within social housing, of how it takes social value measurement to a much more meaningful level, is being seen and adopted by hundreds of organisations outside of the sector too.

I am really proud to work for an organisation that developed the UK Social Value Bank – it’s legendary across the sector

The measurement is extremely robust – it’s done by measuring the improvement in individual health and wellbeing often (but not always) through survey responses, in relation to the 94 outcomes available in the UK Social Value Bank. We measure the difference in an individual’s wellbeing by using a financial proxy related to each of the bank’s outcomes.

Listen to Michael explain how this approach works.

Adding a value to social value

What’s in store for the future of social value?

HACT continues to work with housing associations and other organisations involved in social housing as part of the social value roadmap. That’s where we see real development of social value, including through the supply chain. We are really keen to work with developers, architects and areas of procurement to move beyond numbers and look at that all-important improvement to health and wellbeing. How and what we procure can have a huge impact in terms of sustainability, and there is no greater non-financial impact than increasing the sustainability of the planet in which we live.

Focusing on resident and community outcomes will remain at the core of HACT’s approach, ensuring social value continues to play an important role in understanding the difference we can make to people’s lives. Whether that is through data, by connecting with the health sector or better understanding communities. We see the benefits of measuring social value and a cultural shift in organisations to be embedded and aligned across all possible areas.

We know we’re not alone in seeing the benefits of focusing on social value, we know that organisations not only want to develop the social value they create, but develop their understanding of it. We saw last week the first Social Value Week in the sector attended by over 800 people and we were delighted to be involved, as well as our own social value conference earlier this year being attended by more people than any of our events before.

So we will continue to work collaboratively with the sector and across the supply chain to develop ways to view social value, to measure it and improve, so the impact of individual health and well-being is not only evidenced but it’s as valuable as it can be.

Let's chat

To learn more about HACT’s approach to social value, get in touch and have a chat with Michael McLaughlin

Get in touch