Community’s Perspective on Housing’s Social Value
Published by Dawn Prentice for Dawn Prentice Communications in Communities and also in Education, Environment, Health, Housing
Birmingham-based the Centre for Community Research (CfCR) is creating a toolkit for social landlords to measure the social value they create that goes beyond the usual dry metrics. The toolkit enables the equally important community perspective to be included in social impact assessments and social return on investment to be evaluated by those most closely affected on a day-to-day basis. Partnered by Aston Science Park-located consultants M-E-L Research, a range of quantitative and qualitative approaches have been tried and tested to provide social landlords with the validated views of tenants, residents, neighbourhoods and stakeholders about the ‘lived value’ of community services.
CfCR Chair Kevin Gulliver explains: “We’re looking beyond the conventional metrics of SROI to discover how tenants, communities and stakeholders rate the contribution of social landlords in improving lives and shape sustainable neighbourhoods in urban and rural locations. Often, the quoted SROI ratios of return on investment are wildly out of kilter with the lived experience of tenants on the ground. While social landlords are under pressure to demonstrate the social value they create to tender successfully for services under the Public Services (Social Value) Act, and to prove their VFM, tenants, communities and stakeholders must be brought centre stage to ensure that claimed social value fits with reality.”
“The role of social landlords is changing so rapidly – not least in helping their tenants cope with growing austerity, reduced incomes because of welfare reform and the escalating costs of household necessities – it is vital that social landlords know the views of tenants, communities and stakeholders about the extent of the undoubted social value they create. That’s where our toolkit of service-user evaluation of social value comes in.”
CfCR is not-for profit, research and learning enterprise providing fresh perspectives on the needs, development and aspirations of communities. M-E-L Research is a long-established research and consultancy practice. Together they combine unparalleled knowledge and capacity in the Midlands. Housing research, especially around social value, is a growing activity.
Dr. Robert Pocock, Chief Executive of M-E-L Research expands: “The two research organisations have combined experience of more than 30 years in community and housing research. So we have synthesised research approaches to develop community-focussed research into social value generated by social landlords. Measuring social value is a growing area for the complex role of social landlords. A trusted set of survey questions and tested focus group topic guides, coupled with experience research practice and sophisticated findings evaluation, will help social landlords to validate their social value by appeal to evidence from recipients of services.”
“Our recent research on tenants’ skills, employability and energy behaviours is a key example of how social landlords can go beyond traditional customer satisfaction surveys to measure the less tangible benefits they bring to communities and to provide a vital evidence base to guide their future community investment. Our research approaches to measure social value provide a further set of evaluation tools that social landlords can run alongside their customer satisfaction surveys. This offers considerable VFM and a powerful combined tool to inform their future strategies as well as evaluate their past achievements.”