Measuring-Up Social Landlords
Byline: Kevin Gulliver, director of the Human City Institute
Collecting and evaluating evidence of performance is now central to the job of being a social landlord in England. Social landlords are being asked to measure their impact on the communities they serve and upon local economies, the return on their investment and their value for money to tenants as part of the CLG regulatory regime introduced this year.
The new regime stresses the economic contribution of social landlords, consumer values in testing VFM and the transformative nature, or otherwise, of social landlordism. Of course, not all of this is new to the social housing sector.
And more generally the third sector has been involved in social and economic auditing and calculating social return on investment for many years.
In recent times a number of ways of measuring the community impact, VFM and cost-effectiveness of social purpose housing organisations have been developed.
The National Housing Federation has undertaken two neighbourhood audits of the community investment activities of housing associations, HouseMark has its social investment tracker and others like HACT and the New Economics Foundation are proposing various methodologies to evaluate economic impact.
An Integrated Approach Yet many of the approaches developed so far have focussed on specific elements of social landlord work, such as their contribution to supporting local economies, to environmental sustainability and quantifying their 'added value' or community investment operations.
What has been missing is a comprehensive approach to capture information across all social landlord activities - core housing, care and support work as well as social investment - to enable Management Boards to develop a 360 degree and top to bottom view of the housing, social and economic performance of their organisations. So over the last eighteen months, the Human City Institute (HCI) has researched and has now created such an approach which provides social landlords with an all-embracing yet flexible model called 'Measuring-Up: Evaluating the Social Purpose & Value for Money of Social Landlords'.
The methodology is a synthesis of different approaches already used quite widely to obtain data about organisational behaviour and the community impact of social purpose organisations.
HCI is currently working with the Trident Social Investment Group and the Matrix Housing Partnership on 'case study' operation of the social and economic aspects of the model respectively.
Drawing on Existing Methods HCI's research for 'Measuring-Up' has drawn from methods currently utilised by the third sector, and the best of private companies through their corporate social responsibility policies. It not only includes some aspects of social audit and accounting frameworks, draws from social return on investment (SROI) theory and practice, and enables calculation of social dividend from improved VFM and cost-effectiveness, but also utilises housing-specific methodologies such as satisfaction surveys and tenant scrutiny panels. …