Research Evidence - Social Impact Analysts Association


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

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

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

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


– main focus, moving to harder quantitative approach alongside case studies

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


– 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


– Dutch focus on planning and goal setting – independent SEs?


– English focus on monitoring – regulatory mindset?


– 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)

Outcomes arena – setting priorities together with partners

So what’s really changing?

• • ‘Fences coming down’ – need for self-steering (more of a Dutch approach needed?)

CI mainstreamed from ‘CSR extra’ to ‘core business ’

• • • • 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)

What Drives your Community Investment work?

• • • •

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


CI washes

its face”

Market led – the commissioning game – Supply chains and all that)- often based on individuals rather than neighbourhoods

“If its not in the –(measures set by contracts) contract we don’t do it”

Hact Survey Methodology

- 34 Respondents - Self selecting organisations and interviewees - Telephone interview in November 2011 The stage of measurement activity

Size of housing association Not started any formal measurement and looking around for tools Medium Medium-Large


Fairly new to measuring and waiting to see what results the current tools give them


Large 10,000-29,999 30,000-49,999 50,000+

1 2 1 7 respondents 1 1 1 4 respondents

Currently measuring but aware that need to make the tools / indicators better Have established measurement systems and are able to see the benefits

1 1 4 3 1 10 respondents 3 5 3 2 13 respondents

Growing importance / drivers

• • • • • •


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 • • • •


Accountability – Tenants – Boards

“Prove we are making a difference”

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 “If it’s not

measured, it’s not done”

Approaches to Impact Measurement

• Wide and varied approaches … in tools and methodologies No formal tool A mix of internal and used 15% external tools 9% Internally 35% Paper based systems Externally 41% SROI across 4 countries • • Externally developed tools include: Advice Pro; Balance Scorecard; Business In The Community; CITs; CP Tracker; CR Tracker; Lamplight; Social accounting; SROI; Views (formerly SPRS)

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

• • • •

Why do it?

Accountability Self evaluation Using the data – – for learning in bidding Layers of measurement – Impact of some or all activities?

– Impact as whole organisation?

• • •


Importance of marginal work Funders demands – – Use of data What is useful?

Is it always appropriate and useful?

– – To housing associations To them

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?

Response No Reason

Happy with current tool Waiting to see the success of the one we are currently using Looking around for alternative tool(s)

External tool users


Internal tool users

0 1 2 7


Further develop the current tool(s)

Don’t know

TOTAL Total Respondents: 26 hact research 1 2 14 2 3 12 - 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

“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


• 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


• • • • 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

• • • • • 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?


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

[email protected]

[email protected]