We are proud to be involved in the Communities that Work APPG on Housing and Social Mobility, providing our insight and knowledge to help shape solutions to the issues faced by communities.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Social Mobility (APPG) came together in 2020 to champion social housing providers that support tenants and residents to secure sustainable livelihoods. More about the group can be found here. This inquiry is aimed at tackling the employment and earnings gap in social housing.
Read our full submission to the inquiry here.
A summary of our submission
- Radian is one of the South of England’s largest housing providers. We have an annual turnover of circa £300 million and are the custodians of circa 40,000 homes. Our operating area encompasses 37 local authorities and 73 parliamentary constituencies.
- We have a strong track record delivering our community investment service; in 2019/20 we supported over 500 people into sustainable employment.
- Drawing on a range of data, including health, crime, barriers to housing and services, and living environment, we identified eight Community Investment Zones (CIZ), where we will target our resources over the next five years:
- Amesbury & Salisbury
- Urban Dorset
What factors affect social renters’ work chances?
- We have identified the following:
- Health – we have a high % of customers who are in receipt of Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
- Limited access to transport – with housing based in rural areas there is limited access to reliable public transport
- Digital poverty – lack of access to digital equipment, broadband connectivity
- Low educational attainment – predominantly NVQ L1 or no qualifications
- Access & affordability of childcare
- Historical worklessness/lack of role models.
To what extent are social housing tenants more likely to be in lower paid and unstable employment than people living in other tenures?
- Through our employment and community investment work we have identified that low educational attainment is a significant barrier for customers accessing high skilled jobs. Many of the customers we work with require intensive support to get them job ready and are the furthest away from the labour market. Interventions can last between 6-18 months to access jobs in the service sector where zero-hour contracts are typical.
- In some communities we experienced generational worklessness, where customers might grow up with no working role models, low aspirations and a reliance on the welfare state. In some instances, we have seen customers turn down employment to sustain a base level of income afforded through their current claims.
How can the social housing sector be the catalyst for closing the social housing employment and earnings gap?
- Relationship with customers. We have a unique insight into our customers’ lives: we regularly seek feedback and engage with them increasingly via digital platforms such as our customer portal. We encourage cross functional working so that all colleagues can inform customers of the wide-ranging services that we offer. For example, our Customer Service team triage customers who present with income difficulties and signpost to the employment and training services that are available.
- Targeted support. Our core employment service supports customers into employment and training. We have dedicated employment coaches that work with customers throughout their journey. They deliver employability skills such as interview techniques, CV writing as well as signposting customers to training courses to boost employment prospects.
- Partnership work. We believe that we can achieve more when we work together. We work with closely with local authorities, schools, further education colleges and employers to tailor local solutions.
What can different tiers of Government do to support the social housing sector and tenants, to reduce the social housing employment and earnings employment gap?
- We recommend that the Government considers a range of tailored solutions to boost local economic recovery. We are yet to see the full impact of the pandemic on our local labour markets and our customers employment status/prospects, however we believe that recovery will be at different paces across our operating area.
- We would welcome policies that help people back into work, such as New Deal or Future Jobs Fund schemes that targeted activity within specific communities or jobseekers. The apprenticeship levy could also be a key component to aid employment prospects particularly for young people.
How is the voice of residents heard?
- At the heart of our business we have created an environment called the ‘Voice of the Customer’ (VOC). The VOC sits across the whole of the organisation involving both Customer and Community panels. It provides a central area for complaints, escalations, innovations and feedback to be heard. VOC sub-committees include:
- Positive People and Places – this provides support, agreeing funding solutions to allow customers to sustain their tenancy agreements
- Community Investment – focused on our CIZ we will target our resources and effort where need is greatest to support employment, community empowerment, health and wellbeing
- Customer consultation – a forum that enables customers to shape our policies and procedures.