24dash reports on the stark figures of provider's awareness of their tenants employment status. Details taken from the recent HACT and Inclusion report.
11 May 2012
(This article was published on the 24dash website on 8 May 2012)
Less than 30% of housing providers are engaged in the Government's £5bn Work Programme and only 42% know the employment status of their tenants or residents, a new report shows.
Analysis by The Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (CESI) and housing charity HACT shows that only 28% of housing providers are engaging in the Government's flagship back to work scheme, despite 88% of providers offering their own employment services.
The report found that housing providers had so far left the Work Programme alone because past experiences of subcontracting had put them off, or because they found prime Work Programme contractors’ requirements too broad or rigid for their organisation.
However, the report warned that "effective partnerships between housing and the Work Programme are a must". In 2011, 56 per cent of working age social residents were not working – more than 3.5 million people.
It highlighted the 'Give Us A Chance' consortium’s work creating temporary jobs for Work Programme participants and the approach to Work Programme delivery taken by housing provider and Work Programme subcontractor the Bromford Group as examples of positive collaboration.
Launched last summer, the Work Programme sees housing associations working with private contractors to help the unemployed get back into work.
The scheme replaced virtually all of the existing ‘welfare to work’ schemes, including the popular Future Jobs fund, which many housing associations were involved in.
Laura Gardiner, Labour Market Researcher at Inclusion, said: "With 27% of working-age social-housing residents predicted to join the Work Programme over its lifetime, the success of this scheme is critical to housing providers’ efforts to boost resident employment. And Work Programme contractors will not be able to achieve this aim without the help of the housing sector, with its specialist knowledge and unique local access.
"Our report recommends that housing providers enhance their knowledge base, target their activities and interventions more acutely and work together to build partnerships with mainstream welfare to work provision.
"We recommend that prime Work Programme contractors ensure that their subcontracting terms allow housing providers to focus on the areas in which they operate and the groups with which they work best. For example, prime contractors could offer housing providers the opportunity to deliver only in the wards where their estates are concentrated. In addition, we are calling for Work Programme contractors to look at how they can work collaboratively, rather than competitively, in small areas with high concentrations of social housing. While competition is generally an effective driver of results, we think that the worklessness challenge in certain neighbourhoods will require a partnership approach that spans the two or three Work Programme primes in that area, social landlords, and a host of other local public and voluntary organisations."
The report also called on the Government to make some information on tenants’ receipt of Housing Benefit available to housing providers following the transition to Universal Credit, where benefits will be paid directly to tenants.
The report said: "The Department for Work and Pensions has not yet made clear what, if any, information on residents’ financial support towards housing costs will be made available to housing providers following the transition to Universal Credit. To date, Housing Benefit information has proved useful to many housing providers in determining how to design interventions and activities to support residents from worklessness into employment. Therefore, we recommend that the government commits to making this kind of information available following reform."