Housing associations are driven by a greater social purpose: helping to provide homes and support for almost 6 million people all over the UK. Yet last week we touched on the challenges faced when looking to deliver more social value through social housing. The wider housing crisis, changing environmental regulations, and limited funds are all contributing to housing associations’ struggle when it comes to delivering social value through affordable housing.
For housing associations whose funds are extremely tight, and with housing supply limited, it’s difficult for them to deliver as much social value as they’d like. To help all the beneficiaries they’d hope to help. However, developing a more refined, robust social value strategy, in which all the social value currently being delivered is accurately captured and measured, is an important first step to overcoming these challenges.
Measuring and reporting on social value generated is essential to ensuring the greatest possible outcomes for beneficiaries, as well as being able to evidence all they do to their investors and shareholders.
After all, social value is what connects our goals and outcomes. It’s how we measure and celebrate our wins and impact. And to secure essential investment and funding – allowing housing associations to help more people and generate more value – robust social value reporting will prove invaluable.
Today, we want to cover three key ways a more refined social value strategy can help housing associations overcome their current challenges and have more of an impact long-term.
Doing more with less
We mentioned last week that housing associations’ hands are tied. Research shows the social housing waiting list could be up to 500,000 more than even official figures suggest. With a drastic shortage of new homes being developed, housing associations across the country are finding themselves having to do even more with less time, resources, and funding.
So for organisations who want their money to go as far as possible for their beneficiaries, capturing social value plays a big part. Not only in terms of securing further essential funding from investors, but also in ensuring the optimum use of the limited resources they already have. In short, you want to know your resources are going to the best possible place.
A more robust social value strategy will help compare existing or completed projects and assess their value in terms of intentional, unintentional, negative, and positive outcomes.
Not only is this good for internal decision-making, helping you weigh up your options for future projects, but the Regulator of Social Housing also requires housing associations to demonstrate good value for money. The Value For Money (VFM) Standard requires annual self-assessments that display a robust approach to decision-making in terms of resource usage and cost and outcomes of delivering specific services. Social value should play a huge role in this.
Look beyond the core offering
A refined social value strategy helps you quantify the unquantifiable – all you do that is so incredibly important, yet otherwise alludes description or representation. Instead of focusing on financial metrics, a robust social value strategy allows you to demonstrate the far-reaching impact you’re having on real people’s lives – outside of putting a roof over their head. It enables you to show a more nuanced, meaningful return on investment that so many investors are looking for in the current climate.
What else does providing homes bring to your beneficiaries lives? How many people that you provided with a home have now secured a job? How many have been able to continue with their education or are now having their own positive impact on their local communities?
By capturing all these areas, housing associations can move past financial metrics and prove themselves as being even more valuable. This way, they can increase the amount of investment and funding they receive and continue to impact people’s lives.
Forecasting the future
As well as demonstrating the value of a housing association right now, prioritising your social value strategy will directly impact the resilience, productivity, and value of your housing association long-term.
A robust strategy will help you forecast the expected impacts of future services or programmes – helping with funding and later evaluation. It can also improve current services and promote organisational learning, informing decision-making and reducing risk when it comes to strategy and service development.
Housing associations definitely don’t have an easy road ahead of them. The housing crisis is no easy feat to overcome, and limited funding and resources don’t make it any easier. But to impact more lives and generate more social value – the core goal of housing associations in the first place – we need to start prioritising social value strategies more. It’s only by taking a long, hard look of where you’re at in terms of social value that you can begin on the journey to achieving even more.
The Impact platform makes it easy for housing associations to quantify and demonstrate social value. From the large-scale to the granular, we provide the raw data and real-world outcomes to evidence your impact to investors, inform future decision-making, and change lives long-term. If you want to find out more, or want advice on strengthening your social value strategy, get in touch on 0161 532 4752.