By Nick Stephenson
Employment and training manager
The social housing sector delivers a range of services designed to make a significant impact on improving health, finances and wellbeing for customers. But with the mounting pressure on housing associations to find the 1% cut in rent to tenants, set out by the government in last years’ budget, how can we prove our services to improve people’s lives really are value for money?
We provide employment support, advice on managing money and affordable warmth, as well as intensive support for those struggling to manage their tenancies. And our research shows that those who take up these services are less likely to be in rent arrears than those who don’t.
Between April and December 2015, we helped 250 people secure employment
However we have always wrestled with the question of how to measure the wider impact of these services. We understand the personal journeys that customers experience and we track the number of people we have helped, to quantify what has been achieved. What has been lacking is a consistent way of demonstrating the value of our services, alongside the life changing impact on the individual.
A number of models exist to calculate social value, or social return on investment relating to these services. And in recent years some housing providers have adopted the housing innovation agency, HACT’s, value calculator. This attributes a monetary value using a methodology recognised by HM treasury. In terms of helping someone find a job, this method is based on the value to the individual. In other words, how much you would have to pay someone to make them feel as good about themselves as they do since they secured employment.
At Riverside we use this methodology in two very specific ways. First, as a means of measuring the value of services we deliver for community benefit. This is used for building contractors, as they need to achieve social value as part of their contract with us. The HACT methodology helps us to demonstrate to a contractor the social value of our priorities, such as the creation of apprenticeships and jobs. Second, we use the methodology to demonstrate the value of the activities we deliver to potential funders of our services, such as helping people find employment.
Between April and December 2015, we helped 250 people secure employment. When we apply the HACT methodology, our work has created £1.4 million in social value.
The methodology used to calculate this figure presents an interesting opportunity for the sector to adopt a reputable, consistent means of demonstrating value created through the delivery of our services.
Whether you agree with the notion of assigning a monetary value to improving people’s life chances or not, there is strong evidence that our work to transform lives and revitalise neighbourhoods through employment and training support does have a positive impact on both individuals and society.