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Where has the housing sector got to in measuring its social impact and what approaches are being taken? . David Mullins and Vanessa Wilkes, TSRC, University of Birmingham Housing providers: evidencing their social impact HACT Round Table Discussion 10:00am - 1.45pm on 7 June 2012, London .

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Where has the housing sector got to in measuring its social impact and what approaches are being taken?

David Mullins and Vanessa Wilkes, TSRC, University of Birmingham

Housing providers: evidencing their social impact

HACT Round Table Discussion

10:00am - 1.45pm on 7 June 2012, London

social impact a continuing agenda for housing sector
Social Impact – A Continuing agenda for housing sector
  • Investing for Social Purpose in C19– Remember Peabody, Guinness? – implicit social enterprise model
  • Social Investors of the 1920s – COPEC & Miss Fenter’s CI (financial inclusion and youth diversionary) activities!
  • 1960s Cathy Come Home – housing as social movement – homelessness and neighbourhood renewal
  • 1997 Giddens/Blair Social investment state – HAs as Social Investment Agencies – ‘from housing plus-CI’
  • 2002 In Business for Neighbourhoods – sector rebranding - CI symbol of independent social purpose
  • 2000s Government promotion of social enterprise & SROI across third sector
  • Never forget the impact of secure affordable homes!!
social impact measurement in housing sector research evidence
Social Impact measurement in housing sector – research evidence
  • 2008 First NHF Neighbourhood Audit – first picture of extent of CI (actually quite marginal to housing investment & management in most organisations but £435 million invested across sector, £272m from own resources)
  • 2010 TSA Study – Community investment performance management toolkit for housing organisations - no golden bullet – wide range of tools - make or buy?
  • 2011 Second NHF Neighbourhood Audit – important high level indication of change - but still mainly inputs & outputs
  • 2010-13 PhD Study – from inputs & outputs to outcomes and impacts - Understanding why and how housing associations measure the social impact of their community investment activities (supported by NHF and engaging with HACT)
tsa study 2010
TSA Study 2010
  • Anglo-Dutch trawl of approaches to measurement– 17 tools identified to plan, manage & measure CI activities
  • G15 Roundtables – scope and plans for measurement
  • 8 case studies – 4 internal tools, 4 off-shelf
  • Approach influenced by scale, type & organisation of CI & level (individual, project, programme, corporate, sector)
  • Towards Impact - Considerable interest in moving from inputs/outputs to outcomes/impacts
  • No established practice - Adaptation and use of wide range of tools – choices often a condition of grant funding
  • NHF Audit – led to common scoping & classification activities across sector – but significant differences in range of activities and ambitions of different HAs
  • Launch of Community Impact Tracker as sector tool – would this standardise – enable benchmarking?
tsa study 2010 approaches gaps
TSA Study 2010– Approaches & Gaps

‘need more than a good story now to fund CI’.

  • Projects – main focus, moving to harder quantitative

approach alongside case studies

  • Programmes – external accountability to funders, some strategies & theming – common reporting. Some move to standardisation & KPIs
  • Corporate Overview – weakly developed – CI not on balanced scorecards – BITC, SROI, Social Audit being explored by a few
  • Collaborative planning – weakly developed – organisational measures a barrier to collaboration? –credit claiming – going it alone
  • Area Based – not much progress- floor standards, neighbourhood profiles looking dated- difference between nationals & community based HAs
  • Ex-ante – Dutch focus on planning and goal setting – independent SEs?
  • Ex-post – English focus on monitoring – regulatory mindset?
  • Toolkit – no single tool meets all the aims – distance travelled tools for individual impacts – project management tools– corporate & sector indicators – collaborative planning tools (such as Outcomes Arena)
so what s really changing
So what’s really changing?
  • ‘Fences coming down’ – need for self-steering (more of a Dutch approach needed?)
  • CI mainstreamed
  • Economic crisis – need to harness the local £
  • HAs as SEs and as incubators of community and tenant based SEs
  • 2012-13 Welfare Reforms – urgency of financial inclusion work
  • ASB – recognition of CI investment in ‘diversionary activity’ (remember Miss Fenter) to include in cost benefit analysis of ASB responses (HouseMark)

from ‘CSR extra’ to ‘core business’

what kind of ci what kind of measurement
What kind of CI – what kind of measurement

‘making sure people enjoy the projects’.

  • Society led – responsive & consultative (measures set with residents and communities)
  • Partnership led – LSPs & community commissioning (measures set with LA and community partners)
  • Strategy led – strategic themes set priorities = synergies with core business - (measures set corporately)
  • Market led – the commissioning game – Supply chains and all that)- often based on individuals rather than neighbourhoods

–(measures set by contracts)

“CI washes its face”

“If its not in the contract we don’t do it”

hact survey methodology
Hact Survey Methodology

- 34 Respondents

- Self selecting organisations and interviewees

- Telephone interview in November 2011

The stage of measurement activity

growing importance drivers
Growing importance / drivers

“Prove we are making a difference”

External

Internal

Accountability

Tenants

Boards

Validate social as well as economic value

Growing importance and integration of community investment

Increased desire to understand neighbourhoods …. and see if making a difference

  • Wider third sector interest
  • Shift from ‘monitoring’ to ‘impact’
  • High profile networks
    • SROI
    • Inspiring Impact
    • Think tanks
  • Economic climate
  • Funders
  • “Keeping up” with the sector

“If it’s not measured, it’s not done”

approaches to impact measurement
Approaches to Impact Measurement
  • Wide and varied approaches

… in tools and methodologies

      • Externally developed tools include:
      • Advice Pro; Balance Scorecard; Business In The Community; CITs; CP Tracker; CR Tracker; Lamplight; Social accounting; SROI; Views (formerly SPRS)

Paper based systems

SROI across 4 countries

common issues

“What does good look like”

Common Issues
  • Whilst doing:
    • Resources
    • Skills
    • Understanding complex methodologies or tools
    • Development of outcomes measures
    • Development of financial proxies
    • Confidence (or lack of) in reporting results
  • Whilst thinking about it:
    • No perfect off the shelf answer
    • Different tools for different types of projects
      • Too much choice .versus.
      • no knowledge of the options
    • Waiting for the golden bullet
    • Drawing on external resources, consultants, networks
    • Inter HA discussion “A common problem”

Overlapping

the purpose of impact measurement
The Purpose of Impact Measurement

Why do it?

Caveats

Importance of marginal work

Funders demands

Use of data

What is useful?

Is it always appropriate and useful?

To housing associations

To them

  • Accountability
  • Self evaluation
  • Using the data
    • for learning
    • in bidding
  • Layers of measurement
    • Impact of some or all activities?
    • Impact as whole organisation?
lesson learnt
Lesson Learnt
  • Steep learning curve
    • Build on what achieved, expand breadth and depth
  • Ambiguity in …
    • Methodology
    • Proxy values (e.g. SROI database)
    • Assessment does not give a definite answer
    • But … opens up debate
  • Tension between ‘doing’ and measuring
    • Expectation of partners involvement
  • Manage expectations
  • Promotes a culture change
  • A shared problem
are you intending to change your measurement tool in the next 12 months
Are you intending to change your measurement tool in the next 12 months?

Total Respondents: 26 hact research

  • - Need to move towards measuring outcomes (rather than outputs) and social impact
  • Need to keep up to date with new tools and methodologies
  • Need to investigate the functionality of our current tools
moving forward

“Chaotic progress”

Moving forward ??
  • Overall Strategy
    • Demonstrating the economic as well as the social contribution of RSLs (not just community investment)
    • More Group structures adopting a joined-up approach
  • Resources
    • The need for appropriate time and resources
    • Analytical skills
    • Specialisation of roles
moving forward cont
Moving forward cont..
  • Methodologies
    • An area which needs improving
    • Recognition that the complexity of some approaches may not fit all organisations / social enterprises
    • Development of joint indicators
    • Greater use of proxy indicators
    • More methodological project planning /theory of change
    • Arena for ‘challenges’ within projects to be addressed
questions
Questions
  • Value of standardisation within housing sector v common approaches cross-sector?
  • Does measurement inhibit or enable collaboration?
  • How do aims of CI and delivery models (society led, partnership led, strategy led, market led) affect approaches to measurement?
  • Is social impact of HAs just about CI or about whole business impact? (where are the measures of social impact of secure affordable housing?)
more questions
More Questions
  • How do motivations affect type of impact measurement (external v internal drivers)
  • Should we wait for ‘golden bullet’ to solve problems at a sector level?
  • How can progress become less chaotic?
  • What support resources do different types of HAs need?
  • What can we best do together?
thanks
Thanks

For further info on TSA study, HACT survey and PhD please contact us at TSRC:

  • d.w.mullins@bham.ac.uk
  • vew930@bham.ac.uk