Exploring the impact of the ever-changing world of work on social housing residents

Clare Miller, Chief Executive of Clarion Housing Group, writes about new research the organisation has delivered exploring the impact of the changing world of work on social housing residents.

With inflation at a 30-year high and the media filled with stories about the cost of living crisis, it’s only natural for housing associations to be focusing on the immediate needs of residents and providing whatever support we can to help them weather the storm. But we also need to keep one eye on the future, and the challenges that are just over the horizon.

The pandemic has had a huge impact on the lives of our residents, with many struggling financially as jobs have been lost, people placed on furlough or working hours reduced. The world of work was already evolving, but the last couple of years has accelerated the pace of change and so we wanted to understand more about the impact on our residents.

That’s why we teamed up with the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) to get a fresh perspective on the experience of social housing residents in our changing world of work. Together, we explored the changing labour market, comparing the experiences of social housing residents with those of private renters and owner occupiers.

Unsurprisingly, the research found that social housing residents have been more likely to experience economic insecurity due to the pandemic, with four in ten ‘just about managing to get by’. Strikingly, three quarters of social housing residents said they never worked from home, even at the height of the pandemic, and the same group are more likely to be in jobs at high risk from automation.

On the face of it, these findings paint a challenging picture, but the research also highlighted the stability and security provided by social housing, minimising the trade-offs between social housing residents’ economic lives, home and family lives, and their health and wellbeing.

We launched the report with a virtual roundtable where we presented the research alongside the RSA and facilitated a discussion on the issues raised.

Since then, we’ve held meetings with key political stakeholders to discuss the report in more detail, exploring what more can be done to help people in social housing to overcome these challenges.

Our focus has been on two of the report’s recommendations:

  1. Calling on government to provide a more comprehensive offer of maintenance grants and bursaries for adult learners in the social housing sector, as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee;
  2. Growing the UK social housing stock, ensuring 30% of all new homes are for social rent.

With the risks associated with automation on the horizon, understanding the likely impact on the working lives of our residents is invaluable, ensuring we can support them into jobs in sectors offering long-term career opportunities.

Together we’re likely to have a greater impact, working with partners to drive real change. Please do get in touch if you’d like to discuss the findings of the report and explore opportunities for collaboration.