How anti-poverty schemes are changing lives
Housing organisations are well-placed to make a positive impact in tackling poverty within their communities despite the increasing challenges thrown their way, says CIH senior knowledge management and research administrator Niki Walton.
We know that tenants in the social rented sector are more likely to be affected by poverty than households in other tenures. It makes sense, then, that any anti-poverty initiatives from social landlords have a captive, ready-made audience.
Recent changes in housing finance, welfare reform, and wider economic uncertainty in the wake of the EU referendum mean that these anti-poverty initiatives are needed more than ever, just as housing organisations face questions over resources. Many housing organisations work with partners to fund and deliver programmes, teaming up with specialist charities, education and training providers, utilities providers, and local organisations to make the most of shared resources, audiences, and expertise.
We can learn from these organisations and see how they've made a positive change in their communities. CIH's July briefing, How to support anti-poverty initiatives, revealed the kind of anti-poverty schemes which are in place - our policy and practice team was able to draw on a wide range of examples from a variety of organisations and partnerships across the country.
Inspiration from across the sector
Wheatley Group has launched 'My great start', which provides tenants with the tools they need to flourish in their new home and sustain their tenancy. Riverside has helped its tenants to save more than £50,000 in interest payments by enabling them to access affordable loans compared to the interest rates charged by loan sharks, which would otherwise be the only source of loan for tenants unable to access 'high street' financial products.
The schemes featured in the briefing demonstrated in many cases how support to make small changes can have a significant impact on tenants. For instance, assistance to demystify the process of 'shopping around' for a better deal on utility bills or ensure all eligible welfare benefits are being claimed can lead to positive changes from a single meeting with an advisor.
Longer-term projects such as healthy eating courses or work skills training have the potential to change lives forever.
CIH's research quickly revealed a wide range of excellent practical examples - all were characterised by their response to an identified need in an engaging and often creative way. Many also involved residents in the conception, design, or delivery of projects.
Teams were also able to illustrate the value of their work, demonstrating the positive impact on tenants and the wider consequences for the organisation and local community. Such a wealth of examples and results surely stands testament to the ingenuity of housing organisations and their staff as they and their tenants continue to face uncertain times.