18 March, 2020

Changing Research In Social Housing: The role of RCTs

The social housing sector faces numerous challenges. One is how social housing organisations can reconcile commercial efficiencies and ambitious development targets while sustaining their commitment to their social purpose. Another is the growing requirement for social housing organisations to modernise, adapt to, and better understand the needs of their customers1 and to shape their services accordingly.

In response to these challenges research in social housing is changing. Some social housing organisations have been trialling and using more sophisticated and progressive research methodologies so they can define how their customers interact with and use services. These methodologies shift the analytical focus from what customers say to what customers do. One of the research methodologies that is starting to be used in the social housing sector is Randomised Control Trials (RCTs). This offers the potential to assess service impact and demonstrate value for money.

HACT has been working with partners inside and outside the social housing sector to actively promote and improve the use of research. In 2017, we launched a project with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) with the aim of raising the profile of RCTS within the social housing sector. The project aimed to promote them as a robust and accessible methodology that could be used alongside traditional research approaches to drive evidence-based service design.

This report is the first of two that draw on the learning and insights from that project. Our aim is to encourage researchers within the sector to explore and strengthen the links between research and operational service design.

This first report, entitled Changing research in social housing: the role of RCTs, outlines progress so far in the use of RCTs in the social housing sector. It provides guidance on when to use RCTs either as an alternative to, or in conjunction with, other research methodologies.

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Changing Research In Social Housing: The role of RCTs

PUBLISHED: March 2020

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