The impact of welfare reform on housing associations

05 Dec 2014 Candidate Blogs
The impact of welfare reform on housing associations

Morgan Hunt explores the issues for skills with Procurement for Housing (PfH) 

Procurement for Housing (PfH) is a national procurement organisation dedicated to the needs of the social housing sector. It is a member organisation that collectively manages over 75% of the UK’s social housing stock. 
Morgan Hunt works with housing associations to help them recruit social housing talent. Part of this collaboration involves working in partnership with them to plan and resource their skills requirements. 
Welfare reform has been one of the biggest social shakeups in Britain since the war and deserves some time analysing the impact this will have on the workforce. Follow for thefull article in PfH.
Whichever side of the welfare reform fence you’re on, one thing that most will agree with is that it’s going to get hotter, tougher and messier and looks set to consume a lot more airtime and media coverage.
Iain Duncan Smith took on a big challenge, without any strong background in social welfare. To his credit he has stuck with it even if at times he appears to be carrying an increasingly furrowed brow of late. 
Few could argue with the logic; one payment which combines six working-age benefits and credits for many different life needs that was expected to make efficiencies across a whole spectrum of separate departments and functions. The reform has been batted around parliament, incessantly debated, and while the top level logic makes sense, the devil is in the detail. 
Housing is an integral element in the welfare mix. For a start there is a housing shortage and the rent is the most expensive component of the welfare payment, messing with the payment system, messes with the family budget too. Most people in tight situations will struggle with competing priorities, and PfH members will be juggling with a range of challenges, including rent payment, that they will need to support tenants in.
The job of housing association just doesn’t stop there. They provide a whole range of services for vulnerable people who live in their homes. These are often people who have a range of social issues, who need direction and support from their housing association that includes not just the rent payment, but for other budget areas too. 
Empowering people in the management of their own household budget lies at the heart of Government reform. This is a thread that runs through all reform programmes. Under the new system the general rule implies that payment goes directly to the tenant and no longer the landlord. 
Other complications in housing reform include ‘under occupancy’ and ‘personal independence’ and when the overall payment is squeezed to the barest minimum there is likely to be a consequence. 

How does this impact skills

The change is radical. Some say that it has to be in order to make a difference. But as with all change programmes the detail is not certain. Certainty only comes with experience; having done it before, practical contact with observation and fact, knowledge and skills acquired in the process. In light of the whole welfare system changing, technically speaking no one is an expert. New skills are required to deal with the fallout.
Worth noting is the independent review of the Universal Credit that is due in April. A rubber stamp on this will be the final calling card for housing associations to re-assess their strategies, services, workforce requirements, and associated skill base. 

Find out more information on the new skills requirements.

Morgan Hunt offer a consultative service to help you and your organisation find the kind of social housing skills that will ensure the continuity of your mission. For more information contact the housing team or call 0207 419 8900.



The real point about diversity

Why quota and targets will consistently fail organisations

The real point about diversityMany companies place diversity statements on their websites, issue statements in their HR packs, in annual reports and have processes and procedures in place to help them achieve their pledges. But a large number fail to meet diversity targets despite their well-meaning efforts. The numbers simply don’t stack up in many organisations.

There are many brands of diversity

Regardless of scale or dominant ethnic group in organisations the challenge on the diversity mix is the same. Even our own public sector has been accused of favouring those with previous public sector experience, reminiscent of ‘closed-shops’ and private sector the same.

Public services need representation across all diversity groups and the Metropolitan Police has just announced that they missed their targets with the proportion of new ethnic minority recruits failing to achieve quotas despite a concerted drive to improve on the percentages.

So what is the point about Diversity and why do targets fail?

There was a chart topping song released in the 60’s, Melting Pot by Blue Mink -   the Lyrics of which had a vision of a beautiful dream but although well intended for its time missed the diversity point and that point continues to be missed today.

Diversity has nothing to do with quota, or blending people but everything to do with embracing all perspectives and Myers Briggs’s description of ‘celebrating differences’ is an excellent way of articulating all difference into the work place. Difference in cognitive functions creates misunderstandings in perceptions, attitude, behaviour, preference and decisions, and hairline cracks in any of these can result in huge chasms if people don’t understand each other.

In the commercial setting, logically, why would enterprise not want to create services or products that appeal to all types, and in public service, why would they not want to deliver with unfettered communication and ease.

Diversity has to be seen as a positive thing, that helps the business and not just seen as a target. It’s a core value that says ‘we need the opinions and inputs every type of person before we can make any progress’.  As a recruiter Morgan Hunt is often restricted by tight job briefs where a requirement for specific industry experience can override aptitude and diversity.

The problem with targets is that they are numeric without attachment or accountability for the products or services delivered and this is why they will always fail. Diversity should be sponsored by HR but owned by innovators, investors, front line workers and executive teams, the very people who are accountable for converting raw resources into deliverables and wealth, which is not often the case.

HR cannot manage diversity; it’s not something that you manage, it’s a living, breathing, thinking, feeling part of what wealth creation is all about.

The point about diversity is for positive outcomes taking into account a full and rounded dimension of all perspective and companies will not be able to thrive without it.

Morgan Hunt works with public sector organisations and understands the diversity issue. For more information on Morgan Hunt jobs and our diversity workshops email.

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