Housing associations can save government £70 million and get 42,000 residents into work, finds new Inclusion and NHF research

21 July 2015

Housing associations have the potential to bring down the benefits bill by £70 million by getting 42,000 of their most disadvantaged residents into work, Inclusion’s new report for the National Housing Federation has revealed.

The Worklessness, Welfare and Social Housing report, commissioned by the National Housing Federation and produced by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion, has shown that with the right levels of Government investment housing associations could provide intensive support to help 130,000 tenants prepare for and find work. This would help 42,000 people find employment whilst simultaneously creating 7,000 new jobs.

Social housing residents face considerable disadvantages which contribute to them being less likely to find and be in work. They are more likely to be disabled or have a health condition, aged over 50, a lone parent, from a black and minority ethnic community, or poorly qualified. Despite this, respondents overwhelmingly reported that they wanted to work.

Over two thirds of housing associations either already run (39%) or plan to run (28%) programmes that help people into work. With almost twice as many people living in social housing being economically inactive compared to people who own their own homes or live in privately rented accommodation, housing associations are uniquely well-placed to provide solutions for the most vulnerable in our society. They have long-term relationships with their tenants and huge experience of working in the most deprived areas of the country.

The report suggests that a partnership between government and housing associations could achieve lasting change by getting even more tenants into the security and dignity of work.

Key initiatives suggested in the report include:

A targeted series of ’skills academies’, including work-based training programmes which could get an estimated 10,000 into work and save £29m of public money;
A ‘Jobs-Plus’ scheme, which would combine on-site employment services, personal adviser support, peer mentors and temporary financial incentives for work to offer specialist tailored support for all tenants who need it – which could provide employment for 10,500 people and save £19.4 million of public funds;
Providing intensive support to prepare for and find work, for those furthest from employment – for example those with health problems or childcare responsibilities. This could save an estimated £4.7m and get 5,500 of the most disadvantaged tenants into employment.

By investing £285m nationwide to get the most disadvantaged housing association tenants into work the government could save at least £355m from the public purse, including £292m from the benefits bill. This is a net saving of £70m.

David Orr, Chief Executive at the National Housing Federation, said:
“On the 8th May the Prime Minister said that a key goal for his new government was the creation of ‘millions more jobs that give people the chance of a better future’. We wholeheartedly share that target. Supporting social housing tenants into sustainable employment must form part of the long term solution if government is to succeed in its ambition to create new, well-paid jobs and reduce the benefits bill. This report shows the potentially massive impact that housing associations could have as local, expert partners to government.

“By working together in an open and positive way, housing associations can provide a win-win for government, saving £70 million of public money, helping 42,000 people back on their feet and into work, creating 7,000 new jobs and spreading greater opportunity to the most disadvantaged in the country”.

Read the report here.