US inspired programme to boost housing tenant employment

26 July 2016

A US inspired programme is being developed in the UK to boost employment amongst social housing tenants.

The project, which is being modelled on the US Jobs-Plus initiative, is being delivered in partnership between the UK based Learning and Work Institute, the US based research centre MDRC, and a coalition of 16 landlords through the housing consortium Give Us a Chance (GUAC).

Over the coming months, the Learning and Work Institute together with MDRC will lead on the design, development and planning of the programme, with an aim to create a UK version of the US based model.

In Britain, social housing residents are nearly four times more likely to be out of work than those living in other tenures. Despite these challenges, the large majority of social housing residents are not receiving adequate support to prepare for or look for work.  The Learning and Work Institute estimates that just one in four residents have entered the government’s Work Programme, and only a small fraction of those engaged in the programme will have been able to find work. 

Working with housing providers through GUAC, the Jobs-Plus project will involve 16 housing associations from across the UK, allowing Learning and Work Institute and MDRC to design a model that fits the UK’s landscape and better supports social housing tenants into sustained employment. 

Early immersive research will map existing provision, create an understanding of residents’ characteristics and needs, and provide insights into employment support challenges within the social housing sector.  Research will take place between Summer 2016 and Spring 2017, with an aim to have a fully worked-up prototype by the middle of next year.  The project team will then seek further funding to run trials across the UK.

Speaking of the announcement, Tony Wilson, Director of Policy and Research at the Learning and Work Institute said: “We are delighted to be launching this programme today, and to be working with 16 committed landlords to find ways to better support residents in social housing.  Just half of social housing residents are in work, and most of those out of work aren’t receiving support to get into work.  So we need to do more and do it better.  Jobs-Plus is a model that works in the US, and we’re looking forward to making it work here too.”

Addressing the Learning and Work Institute and the landlords involved in the programme, Lynsey Boother at Give us a Chance said: “We are hugely supportive of making Jobs Plus a success in the UK, after working with Tony Wilson and colleagues over the past three years to make this a reality for our GUAC membership.  Every single landlord involved at the start of this programme is a GUAC member and we will be working hard to support them all the way.”

As well as helping to shape the delivery of Jobs-Plus in the UK, it is hoped that the findings will also influence the shape of future employment programmes and the provision of wider employment support services in the UK, as well as to help to better support social housing residents into employment.