Massive scope to increase housing providers' impact on worklessness

02/05/2012

HACT and Inclusion launch a new report outlining how housing providers can increase the impact of employment and skills programmes aimed at getting residents into work.

The research, based on a survey of 136 housing providers, concludes that there is significant potential to increase the impact and effectiveness of current housing provider-led worklessness programmes.   The report recommends housing providers improve the targeting of employability initiatives; place a greater focus on impact measurement; and build stronger links between housing provider-led initiatives and wider Government funded activity, including the Work Programme. 

“Housing providers’ approaches to tackling worklessness: assessing value and impact” reveals that:

-          88% of housing providers are investing significantly in employment and skills initiatives for their residents;

-          less than 45% of housing providers have up to date information on the employment status of their residents;

-          only limited connections have been established to date between housing provider led initiatives and government funded programmes, with only 28% of housing providers surveyed having established clear links with Work Programme providers;

-          significant differences between housing providers approaches to impact measurement are standing in the way of effective knowledge sharing and benchmarking of good practice.

The report marks the start of a collaboration between HACT and Inclusion, aimed at helping maximise the impact of housing providers on the employment chances of their residents.  Inclusion is the UK’s leading not for profit company dedicated to tackling disadvantage and promoting social inclusion in the labour market.

Report co-author Laura Gardiner, Labour Market Researcher at Inclusion, said “It is clear that housing providers are wholeheartedly committed to tackling worklessness among their residents and within their communities. Our research has uncovered significant investment on this agenda by the vast majority of social housing providers, as well as some fantastic examples of individual projects that are making a difference on the ground. However, the range of approaches taken to tackling worklessness paints a varied and sometimes confusing picture, and there is progress to be made to ensure that the housing sector’s contribution is as effective as possible.

“Welfare reform, new welfare to work programmes and a greater focus on work within housing allocations policy are all driving housing providers to focus their attention on resident employment. To do this, we recommend that housing providers build their knowledge base, target their activities and interventions more acutely and work together to define their impact in this area. We are also calling for efforts from welfare to work contractors and the government to ensure that housing providers have the tools and opportunities they need to boost employment and tackle unemployment among residents.”

Matt Leach, HACT’s Chief Executive said “There are some great examples of partnership working with mainstream welfare to work provision, but too many housing providers appear indifferent towards the support offered through Jobcentre Plus, the Work Programme, mainstream skills provision, and other government initiatives.  The Work Programme is predicted to engage high numbers of social housing tenants, but to date fewer than a third of housing providers surveyed are actively engaging with it.

“Nearly 60% of working age social tenants are not currently working – more than 3.5 million people.  The continued economic downturn will place increasing pressure on those shut out of the workplace.  Housing providers have the potential to make a massive difference to the employment chances of their residents, and this research shows that there is some great and innovative work out there.  The challenge is to harness that energy and potential, to maximise the contribution housing providers can make to getting their residents into work.”

In the Summer, HACT will be launching the second stage of their collaboration with Inclusion, which will focus on supporting housing providers to more effectively target employment and skills initiatives; improving their ability to measure the impact and effectiveness of their work in this area; and building stronger links between housing providers and broader government funded employment initiatives, including the Work Programme.  

Housing providers interested in participating in the next stage of HACT and Inclusion’s project on worklessness, or finding out more about HACT’s new activity programme for 2012-13 please contact John Coburn (john.coburn@hact.org.uk) or visit the HACT website.

Links

Visit the HACT worklessness project page

Read the full report

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