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Tenants only?

Published by Phil Morgan on Friday, January 25th, 2013 at 15:26 pm

Octavia Housing have just announced a new apprentices scheme for four young people. They rightly talk up the benefits of apprenticeships and the benefits for the wider community. Octavia also talk up the costs generated for each pound invested – a return of £4.12. Good stuff.

But the really interesting part is about this being solely for their tenants.

Tracking back in time the Hills report was a timely wake up call for the sector. Social housing tenants were far more likely than either private rented tenants or owner occupiers to be unemployed. And this was not driven by disadvantage – the same disadvantaged social housing tenant was far more likely to be unemployed than their counterpart in other forms of housing.

Of course the then Government missed an open goal by not linking the resulting Working Neighbourhoods Found to social housing and the current Government has compounded this by the even more grotesque mishandling of the Work Programme. Despite these mishaps social housing landlords are increasingly finding ways to create and sustain employment.

There has been a focus upon communities that social landlords are based in for their activity on employment. However work by HACT has shown that job creation has been diluted in terms of its impact on tenants by this approach. Social landlords were being far too nice about job creation and relying on some benevolent ‘trickle down’ approach to untargeted job creation.

Of course welfare reform will increasingly have the effect of concentrating minds of social landlords. Getting tenants into jobs will be the best way of mitigating the increasing rent arrears that will start to stack up after April.

So is it time that social landlords followed the lead of Octavia and focused all their job creation on tenants? And by thinking through the implications of the Social Value Act how best to use the opportunity of procurement to maximise jobs not for residents of an area but for their tenants?

Tenants only?

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