Should housing managers care about tenants’ employability?

Why should social housing managers care about their residents’ employability? Chloe Fletcher, Policy Director at NFA takes a look.

In a financial and political climate that has put every aspect of social assistance under fierce scrutiny, questions like this are asked often.

Yet, they rarely challenge certain types of social assistance, as if some kinds of help are okay and not others.

However, people’s lives can’t be divided into neat, functional segments, particularly in the places where they make their homes.

Three-quarters of social housing residents are in the two lowest income quartiles. All the evidence tells us that poverty is bad for individuals, families and communities, and that children’s chances of a good job and a good life begin at home.

So, for many of our members at the NFA, the only question is, why wouldn’t they grasp this opportunity to offer life-changing help?

Happy, fulfilled people make better tenants, and good tenants make cohesive, supportive communities.

They are also more likely to pay rent and not to get into debt.

This is nothing new for our sector.

Social housing managers have long viewed welfare and the improvement of life chances as an essential part of what a locally owned housing service should offer its residents as a matter of course.

NFA members manage around 420,000 council-owned properties and in recent years have given thousands of tenants access to apprenticeships, training academies, work experience and employment mentoring.

In Wolverhampton, an area with the fourth highest unemployment rate in the UK, Wolverhampton Homes’ employability scheme has mentored more than 1,500 young people into training and work.

In Nottingham, 419 residents took part in 45 Tenant Academy courses last year, equating to over 2,400 hours of learning to increase confidence, qualifications and skills.

Independent assessors say helping these people into jobs and improving their qualifications has generated £17 in social value for every £1 invested.

In five years, the YES service set up by Northwards Housing and Manchester City Council has supported 582 people into employment and 211 people into training and volunteering.

In the last financial year, every £1 spent funding the service brought £42 of social value.

And still all this goes largely unnoticed by politicians and policymakers.

Social housing managers need to shout much louder about the social and financial good these initiatives bring.

At the NFA, we know our members know what works, and we are delighted to be adding that evidence to the Communities that Work campaign.