Community investment - community empowerment

March 2012 - Survey Report for HACT

This research, undertaken by TSRC and commissioned by HACT, provides an up to date picture of the measurement tools being used by housing organisations to measure the social impact of community investment activities. It shows wide variation in the approaches used.

While there is general recognition of the importance of measuring impact, there are also concerns about cost, approach and potential duplication. The report will enable more sharing of evidence about different approaches to impact measurement and what works in terms of community investment.

The report is based on a telephone survey undertaken by Vanessa Wilkes. It maps the approaches being taken by more than 30 social landlords who have begun to use tools that enable them to assess the value of their community investment activities.

Key findings show that this is a complex area with no easy choices. Organisations that have developed in-house tools are generally less satisfied than those using external tools. But there are a wide variety of external tools in use, only one of which is specifically designed for the sector. Most organisations are not satisfied that the outcomes measures used adequately measure impact and are constantly revising them. There is a strong interest in measuring joint outcomes, for example where housing associations join with other agencies to invest in neighbourhood based initiatives, but very little existing practice.

The TSRC survey report will inform further work by HACT to share learning amongst housing providers

TSRC has also been working with the National Housing Federation through an ESRC CASE studentship held by Vanessa Wilkes. The Federation’s Neighbourhood Audit to be published in Summer 2012 will provide the first overview of the level of community investment activity by the housing sector since 2008.

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9 June 2011- HACT and TSRC explore how social housing providers can achieve community empowerment

HACT and TSRC have released a think piece on the role of social housing providers in the context of 'Localism' and the 'Big Society'.

‘Community Investment and Community Empowerment’ by Professor David Mullins is launched today at a conference on Housing and Community Empowerment, due to be attended by about 150 people from across the housing and community sector and government. The report includes a practical tool to help housing associations understand their own position. It was commissioned by HACT to provide a theoretical and conceptual framework that they could use to evaluate their community empowerment work in the current policy context.

The report reviews the history and rationale for community investment. It explores the different approaches taken by housing associations and considers whether this leads to community empowerment. It concludes that local relationship and partnership approaches are more likely to achieve this outcome than contract based or corporate strategy driven approaches. The report is a consultation draft to which comments are invited up to August 31st.

David Mullins leads the Third Sector Research Centre’s housing research programme. He has been involved in research and practice on social housing organisations for many years, including previous collaborations with HACT, collaborative projects with Dutch housing associations, and work with the National Housing Federation on their 2011 Audit.

Heather Petch, director of HACT, said ‘I hope that housing organisations will enjoy sharing David’s journey and will find the product of that journey (the Theoretical Framework and Key Questions) a useful tool in planning their own organisation’s engagement with this agenda. I am delighted that people will have the opportunity to feed in directly to this think piece prior to its final publication by HACT and TSRC in the Autumn.’

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