Knowing our Homes: Where are we now?

Kevin Garvey, 17 June 2024

A year ago, as part of our Better Social Housing Review joint action plan with CIH, we committed to help the sector address the recommendations made by the independent panel. One of the key recommendations was to improve how social housing providers collect and use data – both about the condition of the homes they manage and about the people who live in them.

Knowing our Homes was developed to address this recommendation, in partnership with our members.​ Getting data collection right can help social housing providers address structural and racial inqualities, and is crucial to improving quality of homes for all residents.

What progress have we made over the past year? 

Over the past year, we’ve been working with the Knowing our Homes task group to speak to hundreds of housing associations and complete a comprehensive benchmarking exercise to better understand current data collection practices across our sector. Given the great diversity of homes manged by our members, this has been a vital exercise to ensure our work is valuable, grounded in evidence, and sustainably addresses the Better Social Housing Review recommendations.​ 
Through this exercise we've learnt that housing associations are already doing much more to get to know their homes and residents better. They are doing this in a range of ways, with the vast majority undertaking stock condition surveys on a more frequent basis. Members have fed back that having a more standard approach to undertaking stock condition surveys would help give them even more confidence in their approach. 
This would allow housing associations to regularly complete assessments on the quality of their homes, and develop a more detailed and up to date understanding of the needs of their residents. Taking this approach will also make sure that Knowing our Homes doesn’t duplicate any requirements from new regulation, or add another layer of standards.​ Having tested this revised approach with our members, we’re now ready to take it forward.  

What’s next for Knowing our Homes? 

Going forward, we’ll be focussing on three key elements on the Knowing our Homes programme. ​This includes:  

Working with members and key partners on creating a more consistent approach to assessing the physical condition of homes. 

The NHF and our members will shape a key piece of work by using our knowledge of what the sector is currently doing to assess the condition of homes. We aim to update you on the detail of this later in the summer.   

Sharing best practice for building and storing data on homes and who lives in them.  

I want to thank all housing associations who have fed back to us on our proposals on collecting resident data. We have now commissioned research on the best practice model known as Make Every Contact Count. We know that many housing associations and partners in the NHS are already using this approach to make the most of existing touchpoints to check on homes and the wellbeing of residents. Our new research, which we will be launching at our Quality Homes Conference in October, will share this approach in a practical form, making it simple for your teams to learn from it and decide how you might adopt it in your organisation. ​ 

Making sure that Knowing our Homes helps social landlords demonstrate compliance with new regulatory consumer standards and learnings from the Housing Ombudsman.  

We’ve heard from our members how valuable the NHF’s role is in sharing best practice for data collection, how much that can support your teams, and help decide what models will work best for your organisation. We’ve already started work gathering case studies and have started publishing some of these, so please get in touch if you’re able to share one.