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Housing associations offer ‘vital’ employment support

The social housing sector has a ‘significant’ impact when it comes to supporting tenants back into employment, a new report by the University of Salford has found.

The report, produced by the university’s Sustainable Housing & Urban Studies Unit (SHUSU), found that housing associations offer ‘vital’ employment-related support to their tenants, often for as little as £25 to £30 per household per year.

Job clubs and enterprise development work are particularly successful in improving social tenants’ employment outcomes, the report found.

The report was launched in parliament yesterday as part of Communities That Work Week, which raises awareness of what the social housing sector does to help people into employment.

Dr Mark Wilding, of SHUSU, said: ‘This research is significant as it shows that housing associations play a key role in increasing employment levels, and this is valued by their staff, tenants and partners, including Jobcentre Plus.

‘Moreover there is a clear business case for housing associations to help tenants into work.’

Housing associations often provide employment services to meet their organisational priorities, to help with changes to welfare and to help meet tenant demand, SHUSU found.

Researchers identified a clear business case for housing associations to support their tenants into employment, finding a clear relationship between tenants being employed and reduced rent arrears, particularly in the case of full-time employment.

When housing associations invest in employment-related support, tenant employment levels are ‘positively’ affected, with part-time and full-time employment increasing with investment of up to £25 or £30 per household per year, respectively.

However, the report also found that housing associations struggle to measure the impact of their support, with the level and quality of data collected on employment-related support varying significantly between organisations and even individual services and programmes.

Lynsey Sweeney, managing director of the Give us a Chance (GUAC) consortium of social landlords, commented: ‘This report is a reminder of the importance of the work that housing providers do to help people into work.

‘88% of the social tenant respondents have said that employment had positive social and economic impacts. For these reasons, GUAC are dedicated to working with housing associations and a range of stakeholders to support social tenants into rewarding employment.’

It is hoped the report will encourage more housing associations to invest in and provide employment support, as well as take extra steps to improve measurement of its impact.

Research commissioned by GUAC last year, led by the IPPR, found that only around half of working-age social housing tenants are in work, with unemployment among social housing tenants around twice the national average.

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