Andy Bagley – Achieving Greater Social Impact – March 4, 2013.  Social impact has always been at the heart of what housing providers do. The social housing business is about building communities and enhancing lives, not just the physical structures of housing. Not surprisingly, the sector continues to seek ways to measure this social impact, in order to manage it better and achieve more.

Several ways of measuring this impact have been developed over the years, Social Return on Investment being a prominent example. To date however, most studies have focused on community development activities or aspects of personal support, rather than the core business of housing itself.

The recently released report by HACT, The Social Impact of Housing Providers, is an exception to this in that it looks at the value people place on the accommodation they live in. This takes account of factors such as space, garden, neighbour noise, damp and others, and attributes a financial value to these. Its author, Daniel Fujiwara, is widely recognised for this type of evaluation, and has written other studies including HM Treasury guidance.

The approach he focuses on is Wellbeing Valuation. Essentially, this uses research (principally from the British Household Panel Survey) to understand the value people place on various factors that affect their lives. One way of looking at this is to ask what level of compensation someone might expect in respect of a problem such as damp, in order to give them the same overall level of life satisfaction as someone without that problem. Based on this analysis the top three housing problems come out neighbour noise, damp, and poor lighting.

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