24 February, 2021

Changing Research in Social Housing: RCTs in practice

Targeting resources and services has always been a complex balance for housing providers, ensuring the right people receive the right services with the best use of resources. HACT has long championed the use of evidence and insight within the social housing sector to measure the impact and effectiveness of services and interventions and drive strategic decision making and service improvements.

More recently we have been working with sector partners to design and implement RCTs and build capability to successfully use the methodology. Whilst RCTs are a relatively new concept for many in the social housing sector, there are an increasing number of housing providers pioneering the application of this method to test assumptions and create actionable insights.

This report is the second of two that draws on the learning and insights from a collaborative HACT – JRF RCT project. The aim of the project was to showcase RCTs as a robust and accessible methodology that could be used alongside traditional research approaches to drive evidence-based service design.

The two reports are designed to explain RCTs and provide an insight into their use in the social housing sector. Together, the reports help build capability and the mindset in the sector to consider and use RCTs.

The first report, entitled Changing research in social housing: the role of RCTs, outlined progress so far in the use of RCTs in the social housing sector. It set out the theory behind the methodology, introduced the basics of running a trial and set out steps to consider before running an RCT.

This second report, entitled Changing research in the social housing: RCTs in practice, does something slightly different. It looks at how the theory behind RCTs has been put into practice, with an emphasis on the practical application of RCTs in the social housing sector.

It pulls together experiences, learning and reflections from RCTs that have been designed and delivered by housing providers. Through a consistent format, it provides insights into the practical application of RCTs in the social housing sector. These use cases form the core content of the report, providing insights for social housing organisations to optimise their future potential use of RCTs.

In the current operating environment, research methods need to be accessible, flexible and actionable. Drawing on research disciplines, models and methodologies to address the ever-increasing unanswered questions is more relevant than ever and doesn’t necessarily need to be time consuming. RCTs continue to be a relevant methodology for social housing organisations to use during an unprecedented and unfamiliar operating environment, whether for long term strategy or short to medium term tactical utility.

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Changing Research in Social Housing: RCTs in practice

PUBLISHED: February 2021

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