Social housing and employment – agents of social mobility
The role of social landlords is often undervalued and misunderstood by those outside the sector. While the contractual obligation is that of a landlord, the services provided by social landlords goes much further and offers service which help and assist their tenants to maximise their opportunities.
One example of this is the provision by a substantial number of social housing providers of support for tenants in terms of employment. Sadly a higher proportion of working age social housing tenants are unemployed and there are a higher proportion with disabilities than the general population. The reasons for this are complex but include changing employment patterns and locations, lettings policies and skills.
A major advantage for social landlords is their long term and privileged relationships with its tenants. Further many of the areas requiring the highest levels of support are co-terminus with social housing provision hence social landlords can target and direct support effectively.
Many of the people who social landlord seek to help have complex barriers that need to be resolved before employment can be a viable option for them. In these cases landlords can help by being a conduit to provide the support and services needed to help overcome these barriers for example in caring responsibilities, undertaking adaptations and overcoming physical and emotional barriers.
Pathways to employment may means many steps before a longer term solution is found including work experience, volunteering and training. Social landlords as major employers and with significant supply chains can help provide these stepping stones as part of an overall offer e.g. through apprenticeships.
Sometimes due to their circumstances, employment will not be the best option for people and landlords can work with them so they can manage effectively.
The provision of safe and secure housing is an important milestone for many in improving their well being and independence. Additional services such as employment and skills can be a springboard for people to take further steps in their well being and independence and support social mobility.
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