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  • Launching APPG evidence sessions

    This week sees the first of 10 oral evidence sessions where we will explore the submissions received by the parliamentary Inquiry into Housing and Employment, led by the APPG on Housing and Social Mobility. These online sessions aim to explore the overall themes that have emerged from the responses received, to focus in on specific points raised by individual organisations and to develop a fuller picture of the social housing earnings and employment gap.

    Led by our research directors at the Centre for Collaborative Evidence, CaCHE, each event will look at the Inquiry’s five questions with participants, with an emphasis on discussing potential solutions. Lynsey Sweeney, MD of Communities that Work will join the panel alongside the CaCHE research team. Parliamentarians with an interest in the APPG may also attend.

    Over 60 strong written responses were submitted to the Inquiry in June. A mix of focus groups and smaller panel sessions with housing providers and sector experts, including the NHF and Resolution Foundation, aim to engage a representative range of organisations in interesting and dynamic discussions.

    The panel sessions conclude on 13 August. We plan to share draft findings with parliamentarians, a tenant panel and other stakeholders in September. This will inform the Inquiry’s final recommendations and report which will be launched in October.

  • The residents’ voice in employment support – latest blog on APPG Inquiry

    This is the latest in a series of blogs about the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Housing and Employment. This Inquiry, set up by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Housing and Social Mobility, aims to tackle the employment and earnings gap in social housing and is calling for evidence in response to five questions. This blog looks at question 5.

    When we planned the Inquiry with our research partners, CaCHE, we set out 4 key questions about the social housing employment and earnings gap. These will establish the size and causes of this gap and how to address it. Recognising that tenant involvement is at the heart of effective housing services including employment support, the Inquiry also poses a fifth, cross-cutting question about resident engagement.

    There is a two-stage approach to gathering evidence for the Inquiry. Both stages offer an opportunity to hear directly from residents. Right now, the Inquiry is calling for written evidence by the deadline of 30 June 2020, from any organisation or individual with relevant insights and experience.

    In the second stage, the Inquiry will host several online panel sessions to receive oral evidence. These sessions in July and August will include input from residents, experts and stakeholders whom the Inquiry has invited to contribute, based on the written submissions it receives.

    Question 5 asks about how the voice of residents’ lived experience is  heard and engaged with in employment support. These are some of the issues you might want to consider when writing your response:

    • To what extent were your residents involved in the design, delivery and take up of your employment support services and those of others?
    • What has worked best in engaging tenants and how did you know this had worked? What outcomes did you achieve and how were these measured? If you’ve tried other approaches, why were these less effective?
    • In your view, how can successful approaches be adapted for other contexts, tenants and providers?
    • How have policies and practices been accountable to the people they are designed for?
    • What lessons can we learn for future employment services that will engage with tenants fully and effectively?

    The MPs who are involved in the APPG on Housing and Social Mobility are very keen to hear about the lived experience of residents involved in employment support. In preparing your written evidence, are there ways in which you can include the direct voice of your tenants and residents and involve them in submitting this?

    Please share your expertise and experience of support for residents into training and work, from before the coronavirus and since the start of the pandemic.  The quality of the Inquiry’s findings depends on the information and insights it receives. You can help shape the Inquiry’s final report and recommendations and enable us to influence future policies as we emerge from CV-19.

    Please submit your written evidence by the deadline of 30 June 2020.   Please read the updated guidance document before drafting, alongside our other APPG blogs.

    Thank you in advance for your contribution.

  • Solutions from housing and government – latest blog on APPG

    This is the fourth blog in a series about the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Housing and Employment. This Inquiry aims to tackle the employment and earnings gap in social housing and is calling for evidence in response to five questions. This blog looks at questions 3 and 4.

    • Question 3 (Q3): How can the social housing sector be the catalyst for closing the social housing employment and earnings gap? 
    • Question 4 (Q4): What can Government do to support the social housing sector and tenants, and to reduce the social housing employment and earnings gap?

    The first two questions posed by the Inquiry are seeking evidence about the problem i.e. the size and cause of the social housing earnings and employment gap. Q3 and Q4 both seek solutions. The key difference between these questions is who is responsible for these solutions – Q3 is focused at the housing sector whereas Q4 looks at Government. We also want to hear examples of good practice from other stakeholders working with communities so employment, training, charities and other agencies are encouraged to contribute too.

    If you are a housing provider or working with the housing sector, tell us in response to Q3 how you are tackling the social housing gap. What interventions have worked best, for whom and why? Consider some or all of the following points in your response, based on your experience and knowledge:

    • What employment support do you offer/have you offered and how does this get more residents into sustainable employment?
    • What outcomes does this achieve, and how do you measure these?
    • What partnerships are needed to successfully deliver these services? These include internal relationships with e.g. maintenance teams, and with external contractors to create job opportunities and training.
    • What approaches and practice provide good social returns on investment? How can this impact best be measured and recorded on a consistent basis?
    • In your view, how can these approaches be adapted and scaled up to work nationally, or in different contexts?

    We also want to hear about the sector and its support for providers to get people into jobs. How do we best deliver this, so that all housing providers get more tenants and residents into good quality, sustained employment.  A big question is whether all housing associations should be engaged in employment support for working age tenants as part of a core household support offer. 

    Q4 covers similar ground but is looking for evidence about the role of local and national government specifically in facilitating your approach. What can different tiers of government do to support the social housing sector and tenants to reduce the employment and earnings gap?

    We want to hear both about successful initiatives with government, and to learn lessons as to why other interventions were less effective. How much of an opportunity is there to innovate and experiment locally? How should these projects be resourced to enable sufficient monitoring and evaluation?

    As our blog on the APPG in the era of Covid-19 outlined, all the original questions of the Inquiry remain but will now need to be considered in light of the pandemic. As well as the above points, what lessons can we learn from good practice by housing providers that may help overcome the issues caused by Covid-19’s impact on the economy? How can government build on its interventions during the lockdown, to aid recovery while supporting the labour market, housing security and ability to pay?

    The housing sector and its partners in local, regional and national government as well as charities and research, employment organisations all have valuable insights to help make this Inquiry a success. Your views and expertise will help shape the evidence we need to build policy and practice to help our communities as we emerge from Covid-19.

    The deadline for your recent evidence is now 30 June 2020. For details of how to submit your evidence, refer to this document or contact us if you have any questions.

  • Evidence in the era of Covid-19 – Latest blog on the APPG Inquiry

    This is the fourth blog in a series about the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Housing and Employment which aims to tackle the employment and earnings gap in social housing. It is open for evidence from housing providers, residents and sector experts

    The Inquiry was launched in March by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Social Mobility before the full onset of the coronavirus crisis. This blog looks at how this new context is informing how we approach the Inquiry and its questions.

    In light of the pandemic, we have amended some aspects of the Inquiry – updating the initial guidance documents, moving the oral evidence sessions online and extending the deadline for written evidence submissions to 30 June.

    The Inquiry sets out five questions about the social housing employment and earnings gap, to establish its size and causes, and identify positive practice and solutions to resolve it. Discussions with our research partners and other colleagues have confirmed that the central questions of the Inquiry remain more relevant and valid than ever in the light of the Covid-19 virus.

    Some specific issues to consider in the light of Covid-19 include:

    1. To what extent will social tenants be disproportionately affected?
    2. What lessons can we learn from good practice by housing providers that may help overcome the barriers created by the consequences of a collapse in demand?
    3. How can local policies, including those of housing providers support employment opportunities? Can construction partners and other contractors support this?
    4. How can government build on its interventions during the lockdown to protect incomes, employment, housing security and affordability, to now pursue housing-led interventions in the recovery that also support the labour market and housing security and ability to pay?

    All Communities that Work members have insights and expertise to contribute about this issue and we would like to hear from you. Tell us what works based on your organisation’s knowledge and experience – from business as usual and your services. What would you want to see more of and less of in the future?  How can government policy help the housing sector to support our communities back to work, safely and effectively? What do you need to help?

    Your written and oral evidence will shape the Inquiry’s findings and proposed solutions, to be published in a final report in October. We will use the information you provide to lobby for improved policies, closer working with government and increased recognition of the role housing providers can play in building communities that work.

    We look forward to receiving your written evidence submission by 30 June 2020.  Please submit sooner, if you can! Please read the updated guidance document before preparing your evidence and have a look at our other blogs.

    Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have ideas or questions about any aspect of the Inquiry.

  • What is the social housing earnings gap? Latest blog on the APPG Inquiry

    This is the third blog in a series about the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Housing and Employment which opened for evidence in March.

    The Inquiry’s focus is the social housing employment and earnings gap. It is asking for evidence about the size of this gap and its causes, and examples of positive practice and interventions which improve employment rates and the quality of work.  We want Communities that Work members and partners to share their insights and expertise by submitting evidence.

    The Inquiry has set out five questions for you to consider. Question 1 asks about the employment gap between social housing tenants and working age people living in other tenures. This blog looks at question 2 which is concerned with the earnings gap.

    Q2: ‘To what extent are social housing tenants more likely to be in lower paid and unstable employment than people living in other tenures and why?’

    There is a lot of existing evidence in research reports from e.g. JRF and the Resolution Foundation which has been summarised by CaCHE, our research partners. These studies have found some common themes about the barriers to employment and the positive role housing providers can play. We would like to hear your organisation’s perspective on these issues and potential solutions to answer Q2 and some or all of its sub-questions:

    1. What can social housing residents earn once they are in work and how does this differ from other tenure types in your area?
    2. What factors affect social renter’s work opportunities and choices?
    3. What do you know about the quality of the work that residents undertake – i.e. its precarity/instability, earnings, and the extent to which they have a degree of control over their work and conditions?
    4. What are your sources of information about your tenants’ employment patterns and conditions? Are there any gaps? Do you know how this compares with other groups?

    You do not need to provide answers to all these questions – they’re just to prompt ideas and thinking. Please answer based on your organisation’s knowledge and experience.

    Share your solutions

    While we are keen to hear about the issues your residents face, please also tell us in detail how you have addressed these. What interventions have been most effective and why? How could these successful ideas also work elsewhere?

    We also want to understand about the quality of the evidence. How do we know what works? How are you assessing the effectiveness of the interventions you make? Do we understand why outcomes vary?

    With members facing ever-changing priorities related to Covid-19, we want to make it as easy as possible for you to contribute to the Inquiry. Your insights and evidence will help to shape the solutions the Inquiry proposes throughout, and as part of its final report.  Our collected findings will set out clear recommendations for action by government, policy makers and the sector.

    If you have any questions about the process and the evidence the Inquiry seeks, please don’t hesitate to get in touch: information@communitiesthatwork.co.uk

  • What is the relationship between social housing and employment ? Latest blog on the APPG Inquiry

    This is the second in a series of blogs from Communities that Work on how to participate in the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Housing and Employment.

    We know that social housing leads to many positive outcomes for its residents. However, there is lots of evidence that social housing tenants of working age have worse employment outcomes than people in other tenures (Resolution Foundation, 2019). What causes this gap in employment and earnings between social housing tenants and other working age people and how can we reduce it? These are the issues that the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Housing and Employment aims to address.

    The Inquiry which was launched by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Housing and Social Mobility is focused on five key questions, which are listed here. We want as many people as possible to contribute evidence which addresses these questions, so we have some general tips at the end of this blog as well as the FAQs in last week’s blog.

    The first of these Inquiry questions is about understanding the scale, causes and nature of the issue. You will have the opportunity to outline the solutions and interventions you have identified as effective in reducing employment gap in response to the other questions.

    Question 1: What is the relationship between social housing and employment?

    Tell us the picture in your area for employment outcomes for social housing residents, in comparison to other tenures:

    • What do you know from other specific places, experts, and organisations (please tell us who) about the employment gap?
    • In your own locality what factors affect social renters’ work chances?
    • What are the causes and key drivers? To what extent do these relate to the profile and personal characteristics of tenants e.g. age, background, caring responsibilities, health, and wellbeing?
    • Which factors relate to the demand-side, such as local labour markets and other factors such as transport, location, etc that impact on employment chances?
    • What research, reports, or other sources of evidence or information would you recommend from in your locality or beyond – regional, national, or international?

    Guidelines for your overall response

    Your evidence submission will be based on your expert knowledge, professional experience, and the data you have gathered in your work. There are no right or wrong answers.

    Summarise data (quantitative and qualitative) and information which supports your response from internal sources – such management reports, tenant surveys, Annual reports, updates for funders – and external, such as local labour market information or research reports. Don’t forget to list these sources and your contact details in case we need to follow up with you further.

    If you provide specific examples of challenges, projects, or case studies, it helps to have the context for this and a sense of how far this is specific to your local situation or applies elsewhere.

    Finally – keep it short! Your total submission should be no more than 6 pages of A4 so 1-2 pages is what we would expect for this question.

    Please email submissions to information@communitiesthatwork.co.uk. If you have any questions contact: Lynsey Sweeney, Managing Director, Communities that Work by email: lynsey.sweeney@communitiesthatwork.co.uk

    Read our FAQs blog here.

  • Open for evidence – new blog on the APPG Inquiry into Housing and Employment

    This blog is one of a series aiming to help organisations and individuals contribute to the APPG Inquiry into Housing and Employment. Following the onset of the coronavirus crisis, we have extended the deadline for written evidence to Tuesday, 30 June 2020.

    The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Social Mobility launched the Inquiry in early March before the full onset of the coronavirus crisis. Throughout Covid-19,  the health, wellbeing and safety of communities, residents and staff is the overriding priority.

    However, with the expected impact of the crisis on the economy and jobs likely to exceed previous recessions, the role of UK housing providers in aiding recovery will be vital. This Inquiry aims to understand and offer solutions to tackle the employment and earnings gap in social housing. Its findings will help inform new national policies as we emerge from Covid-19.

    All our members have insights and expertise to contribute about this topic and we would like to hear from you.

    We have prepared some FAQs about the Inquiry below. Look out for our blogs on each of the five questions for which we seek evidence in the next four weeks.

    1. Do you have to be a Communities that Work member to take part?

    Any interested organisation or individual can contribute evidence. We want to hear from a variety of organisations – members, other housing providers, local authorities, skills and enterprise specialists, education and training agencies and businesses – and from residents, who all have a wealth of knowledge and experience to contribute.

    1. I work in Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland – can I contribute?

    The Inquiry recommendations will cover England specifically, but we are keen to learn from wide sources of experience.  There are common issues and many examples of good practice and learning from all four nations and internationally. We welcome evidence from all parts of the UK,  Eire and globally.

    1. Do I have to answer all 5 research questions?

    No, you can answer 1 or more, or all, as you see fit.  We welcome responses that cover some or all the specific questions raised here.  Our research partners UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) have prepared this document and an overview of the research background to inform your response.

    1. What should I include in my evidence?

    We want to build an accurate picture of what the social housing employment gap is and understand its causes. Your quantitative and qualitative knowledge, information and expertise is vital for this. Draw on data and insights you have collated about your residents and local trends, and summarise the key factors from your experience.

    We also want to hear from you about what works and why, and about scalable and replicable solutions and approaches. Please reference the sources of your information, whether that’s internal or external.

    1. How will you use my information?

    We will bring together the evidence we receive with existing research and analysis of trends to a form a report of our findings with recommendations for action.  This evidence may be made public either as part of the oral evidence sessions or as part of our final written or digital report. Let us know clearly in your submission if you want all or, or parts of, your evidence to remain private.

    1. Who is involved in the Inquiry?

    The cross-party All-Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Social Mobility (APPG) was founded in 2020 to champion social housing providers that support tenants and residents to secure sustainable livelihoods. It has launched the Inquiry into Housing and Employment which is supported by Communities that Work and PlaceShapers. Communities that Work are the registered Parliamentary secretariat, with additional support from the housing sector GEM programme. Our research partner is the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE).

    1. What’s the NEW deadline ?

    The Inquiry is now open until June 30, 2020 for written evidence from all interested parties. This has been extended in response to the new context in which we are all working. Please email your submissions, of no more than 6 pages, to information@communitiesthatwork.co.uk

    The Inquiry will also host online sessions in July and August to draw out evidence and testimonies from residents, experts and stakeholders from the South West, East, Midlands and North of England. Participants will be invited by our research partners, based on the evidence submissions received, to explore key themes.  The final report will be launched in October 2020.

    For more information about the Inquiry, visit our website or contact Lynsey Sweeney, Managing Director, Communities that Work by email:
    lynsey.sweeney@communitiesthatwork.co.uk