Unique partnership develops innovative model for measuring the sector's social impact
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing
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Groundbreaking new research by Affinity Sutton and Catalyst housing associations, with the London School of Economics and HACT, has created the 'Social Value Bank', a set of 53 measures that will enable any organisation involved in community investment activity – from reducing antisocial behaviour to helping residents into work – to calculate the impact of their activity.
To create the Social Value Bank measures, the research team used sophisticated econometric modelling to assess the relationship between wellbeing and a change in someone's life circumstance, for example getting a job after being unemployed.
Phil Miles, Director of Regeneration & Communities at Affinity Sutton explains: "As key investors in local communities, the sector has lacked an effective and simple way to measure the impact of their socio/economic activities or a way of working out which investment produces the greatest social impact. Creating the Social Value Bank is a groundbreaking step forward towards measuring our social impact using a simple set of consistent and robust measures."
Using Wellbeing Valuation techniques developed by Daniel Fujiwara from the London School of Economics (which are being increasingly used by government departments), the team calculated a set of proxy monetary values for a 53 different community interventions, by calculating the amount of money that would produce the equivalent impact on wellbeing.
Examples of outcomes and their values are (figures are per person, per year):
· Getting a full-time job - £10,767
· Relieving someone from a heavy debt burden - £9,428
· Raising young peoples' confidence - £9,283
· Reducing antisocial behaviour - £6,403.
Erica Cawood, a Business Analytics Consultant at Catalyst continued; "The data gives us some fascinating insights into the impact of our efforts. Applying this to a real-life example: on the face of it, reducing antisocial behaviour has a lower value per person than, say, getting someone into work or raising a young person's confidence. However, antisocial behaviour can impact on a lot of people in an area, and assuming the costs are the same the cumulative wellbeing benefit to a community of tackling antisocial behaviour might actually end up being greater than the headline figure would initially suggest."
Daniel Fujiwara from the LSE, commented; "'The Social Value Bank marks a significant step forward not just for the social housing sector but for social impact measurement in general. The Wellbeing Valuation methodology is being used by a number of Government Departments and features in the Treasury Green Book. The Social Value Bank represents the development of the first repository of wellbeing values developed from a single consistent methodology."
The Social Value Bank builds on earlier research undertaken by HACT and Daniel Fujiwara, which Affinity Sutton and Catalyst were keen to translate into practice. To help, a group of leading housing associations were invited to test the innovative approach. Through their involvement, the team have been able to ensure that the model is relevant and accessible, no matter the size or the complexity of the organisation using it.
The Social Value Bank model is free of charge to all registered housing associations and ALMOs. It will be available via a toolkit and an online tool – 'Value Insight', which will be launched shortly. In addition, learning will be shared through a series of HACT Social Value Bank workshops; the first of which is on Tuesday, 11 March.
Matt Leach, Chief Executive of HACT summarised; "Thanks to the approach taken the Social Value Bank will enable the comprehensive measurement of the overall value of housing associations commitment to communities for the first time. It will also enable comparison with a wide range of other sectors which are using the same methodology - an important tool for the sector when Government is constantly looking at generating best value for money on its investments."
The Social Value Bank model will be available for download on Monday 10 March at: