Housing

Housing associations are spending £70 million boosting long-term employment

An Institute for Public Policy Research report has found that public policy has “failed effectively to support this work”

Housing

Housing associations are spending over £70 million supporting tenants to beat long-term unemployment, according to a new report – but more can government support can improve their work.

The Institute for Public Policy Research estimates that the sector delivers support worth over £70 million a year, with over £60 million coming from housing associations themselves.

Around two in every five provide directed employment and skills programmes with one in three identifying supporting residents into work as a top priority.

And the need for this approach is clear – despite record high employment in the country, housing tenure and job status remain inextricably linked – just four in ten housing association tenants are employed.

Weekly household income for housing association tenants is just over half the average for all tenures, and those who are in work earn far less than the average. As a result, one-third of tenants find it difficult to pay their rent, and three in five are on housing benefit.

However, the IPPR study insists national employment and skills policies have failed to engage effectively with housing associations. Recent developments – including the devolution of the Work and Health Programme and the adult education budget (AEB) – offer the opportunity to build more effective place-based employment and skills services.

IPPR senior research fellow Joe Dromey said: “Housing associations already play a vital role in supporting their tenants to access sustainable and decent employment, and thereby in tackling deprivation in some of our most deprived communities. However, public policy has traditionally failed effectively to support this work, and to maximise the potential of housing associations as key partners in building communities that work.

“With partial devolution in both welfare-to-work and adult skills, local areas have the opportunity to build more effective and better integrated place-based services to support those furthest from the labour market to progress into work. Housing associations could be key partners in delivering on this agenda.”

The IPPR have recommended that local areas should establish Work and Health Partnerships, commission employment and skills services, support the transition to Universal Credit as well as calling for further devolution of adult skills training and funding.

They also ask for housing associations to work with local authorities to support and co-ordinate community well-being work.

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Making sure our jobs market works for everyone is at the heart of what we do, and the employment rate is now at a record high of 75.7 per cent. With over 3.3 million more people in work since 2010, we have seen on average 1,000 more people in work each and every day.

“Around £100 million of funding has been devolved to London and Greater Manchester to procure and deliver localised versions of our Work and Health programme, capitalising on local knowledge and good practice. Our specialised providers are delivering tailored support to job seekers across England and Wales.”

Image: Chris Marchant/Flickr

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