Welfare reform in the real world - south west housing associations research the impacts

28 October 2013

11 housing organisations in the south west have come together to form the lobby group South West Housing Association Influence and Leadership Organisation (HAILO).

HAILO has commissioned renowned housing expert Professor Anne Power and her team at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) to conduct an 18 month longitudinal study, looking at how the government’s welfare reform programme will influence tenants’ work opportunities throughout the region.

The research, entitled ‘Work Incentives After Welfare Reform: Following social housing tenants on their pathways to work’, will include residents in urban, rural and coastal locations. HAILO will look at a wide range of issues facing households:

  • How welfare reform is influencing residents’ choices
  • The barriers and consequences on residents who are in work, seeking work or workless
  • The costs and benefits of working or not working
  • What ‘success’ and ‘failure’ mean in individual lives and for social landlords
  • How social landlords in the region respond
  • The wider implications of the reforms for inequality and people’s sense of fairness.

Paul Crawford, Group Chief Executive of DCH and chair of HAILO, explained: “Welfare reform is designed to encourage benefit-dependent households to become more self reliant, find and hold down work and take up training opportunities. We’ve commissioned this research to look at whether the government’s policies are delivering the expected outcomes, and what we as housing associations can do to support our residents in the south west.”

Nick Horne, Chief Executive of Knightstone and founder member of HAILO, says ‘Through HAILO, the largest housing associations in the south west are joining forces to influence positive change on the big housing, economic growth and social issues that most affect our residents and communities. The outcomes of this study will highlight practical ways to improve welfare reform and into work programmes, for the benefit of associations, residents and government’.

Victor da Cunha, Chief Executive of Curo and sponsor of this research project, says “This research will provide HAILO members with independent and respected empirical evidence of what’s working and what’s not. We can then demonstrate to government the adjustments needed in order to ensure that reforms truly lead to fulfilling employment for those who can work, while providing a fairer system for those who can’t”.

Professor Anne Power, Professor of Social Policy at LSE, adds: “This is a very exciting contract that will bring us close to the ground and help us understand tenants’ views on the welfare reforms.”

HAILO’s final report, will be published in the autumn of 2014 and will follow welfare reform’s wider impacts on homelessness, poverty, local services, community involvement and private renting.

Paul Crawford added: “The LSE Housing and Communities Team has an outstanding national reputation in community-based research and we’re excited to be working with them on this important study.”

The member organisations own and build homes across the region and collectively have a turnover of £900m, with 201,000 homes in management and 13,200 new homes in development to 2015.

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