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New Report: Building Opportunity: How social housing can support skills, talent and workforce development.

December 2022

New report calls for a fresh 'Plan for Jobs, Growth and Incomes' as research finds improving support for social housing residents will play a key role in boosting growth. 

Research commissioned by Communities that Work (CtW), the National Housing Federation (NHF) and the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA) calls for a fresh 'Plan for Jobs, Growth and Incomes', that puts social housing residents at the heart of the UK’s plan to boost growth and help drive economic activity.

The report calls for investment in specialist employment support for those out of work and who want to work. 

The UK is facing a potential employment crisis that risks further slowing down the economy: for the first time in thirty years the UK’s workforce is contracting, while job vacancies are at a record high as employers struggle to fill roles. Employers and policy makers should now be focused on finding new ways to expand the labour market and increase the employment rate – by engaging the economically inactive, while improving job retention, security and progression.

The report highlights the critical importance of social landlords in the design, development and delivery of these services alongside other partners.

This new research, carried out by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and the Learning and Work Institute sets out fresh analysis of the UK employment market. The report shows that supporting  social housing residents who wish to enter the employment market is vital to meeting both the UK’s immediate economic challenges and improving the country’s long-term prosperity – by filling vacant roles, and expanding the jobs market to support future growth. And there is a clear indication that many unemployed social housing residents would like to access employment opportunities if the barriers to employment were removed: 1.7 million economically inactive people in the UK say they want to work, whilst 72% of 50-59 year olds in Great Britain who left the workforce during the pandemic said they would consider returning to work. 

Communities that Work is now calling on the Government to invest in specialist employment support for social housing residents who are out of work and who want to work; by increasing access to employment services and including with wider services like health, childcare and transport, and better engagement with employers.

Talking of the need for a new Plan for Jobs, Lynsey Sweeney, Managing Director of Communities that Work, said:

“We need a new plan that can invest in specialist employment support for those out of work and who want to work; broaden access to mainstream employment services; strengthen local partnerships and alignment with wider services like health, childcare and transport; and work better with employers.”  

Talking of the housing sector's work on employment, Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation said:

"Social housing providers are keen to work with government to support more people to develop skills and access job opportunities. Housing associations already provide employment support and career advice, and they can help local partners see whether the support is reaching those that need it the most and target action where improvements are needed. But the social housing sector can and wants to do even more to build capacity and capability, sharing practice and raising awareness of the role that social landlords can play in supporting jobs and incomes."

Talking of the opportunity to support innovation, Eamon McGoldrick, Managing Director at the National Federation of ALMOs, said:

“The report shows the strong case for government to work with the social housing sector to encourage, support and fund innovative approaches to employment and skills support that can be delivered through and with social landlords.

“As a starter, there would be significant value in trialling the ‘Jobs-Plus’ model in the UK, which is a well-evidenced approach to supporting people out of work in the most disadvantaged communities, taking a place-based, joined-up and work-focused approach to engaging residents and supporting social action.” 

One of the report leaders, Stephen Evans, Chief Executive at the Learning and Work Institute, said:  

"Our research shows that if we want to increase employment, we need to provide more support for social housing tenants. It also shows the positive role so many social landlords are playing in providing that support already. I hope this report helps make the case for a joined-up approach to increasing employment with social landlords as key partners."