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Sharing RSL Knowledge Highlights Positive Impact of Social Homes

3 min

Through Shetler Scotland, a new project demonstrating the positive impacts social housing can have on communities has been launched. 14 RSLs are part of the project, promoting knowledge sharing across the sector.   

Working in collaboration with the HACT, the project’s core objectives are supported by a separate advisory group. Having multiple views from different angles of the sector will create a three-dimensional perspective of the positives in the sector.  

With additional input from 14 RSLs, the experiences of new tenants have been recorded with a specific focus on retrofit changes and general refurbishments to see the most positive impacts that have improved residents’ everyday lives.  

This type of project is a first-of-a-kind and there are hopes that if done successfully, it could not only be a blueprint for other RSLs to follow but go a long way in changing the perceptions of net zero, refurbishments and retrofit across the social housing sector. 

Quantifying social value can be difficult

Quantifying the success factors of these changes goes a long way to dispel myths, but can also help streamline future processes. 

Despite being in its infancy, there have been several positive social changes identified, including independence and improved mental wellbeing.  

Placing a numerical value on social value is often difficult, but early-stage research has found an average of £11,371 of social value per respondent. This equates to an average of £543.96 of savings for the government per person.  

Industry leaders welcome this first-of-a-kind project

Alison Watson, director of Shelter Scotland, said:  “The housing emergency in Scotland is getting worse, not better, and the only route out of it is to deliver more social homes. 

“The Scottish Housing Regulator has said that homelessness services are on the brink of systemic failure, while the threat to housing posed by crumbling local authority finances was flagged by the Accounts Commission just last week.  

While it’s still early stages we expect this new tool will help us demonstrate that not only is social housing the best way to end the housing emergency it also measurably improves the lives of the people living there

Michael McLaughlin, head of social value at HACT, said: “Social housing services in Scotland are seeing higher demand than ever before. However, the housing being available doesn’t solve the problem – there’s a need to ensure the housing on offer is providing desirable places to live for residents, not just in terms of the individual homes themselves but also the communities in which they’re located.  

“We’re delighted that we’ve been able to partner with Shelter Scotland in order to measure the real-world benefits that social value work is having on people’s lives. It’s key to remember that all social value work impacts people’s lives, it isn’t simply an exercise mandated by law or as part of a company’s ESG policies. 

By speaking to the people living in the places involved in the project, we can truly see the impact of that work. And being able to show the true value of social value, we can ensure this informs and drives the strategy and decision-making going forward. This is a really exciting project with so much potential to change people’s lives

Clair Malpas, CEO of Cassiltoun Housing Association from the project’s advisory group, added:  “Any report such as this which shows the value of social housing for people in Scotland is very welcome. 

“The report findings that social homes provide people with secure, warm, safe and affordable homes should be used by Scottish Government and decision makers to justify the continued investment in social housing in Scotland.”