Before the coronavirus crisis, working age social housing residents were already some of the most vulnerable people in society. Lack of secure employment and in-work poverty are some of the challenges that have only been exacerbated by this crisis and the global economic slowdown.
We’re now facing the realities of the deepest economic recession in living history, bringing with it a growing gap in economic inequality that will hit social housing residents hard. The damage to the economy and jobs market is likely to exceed previous recessions in both scale and speed of shock, and the role of UK housing providers in aiding recovery will be more vital than ever before.
That’s why Communities that Work launched the COVID-19 Housing and Employment Taskforce, with the National Housing Federation as a taskforce member.
This new taskforce brings together leaders from the housing and employment sectors to find employment-led solutions for social housing residents. Promoting cross-sector collaboration, the taskforce will approach critical issues with deep insight, taking a comprehensive approach and tackling shared challenges.
The taskforce will consult with - and serve as a resource to - government and policy makers in delivering meaningful, realistic solutions. The DWP and MHCLG are consultation partners to the taskforce.
By combining our individual strengths in the housing and employment sectors to stand as one, I am confident the taskforce will drive meaningful solutions that guide social housing residents – as well as our sectors – through this crisis, and lay a foundation for recovery and long-term resilience.
Our research has shown that social housing providers invest over £70m every year in employment-related services, making them the UK’s second biggest investor in employment support after the DWP. With the sector facing new business resilience challenges, and the DWP prioritising employment commissioning, now is not the time to retreat from our most vulnerable communities – it’s time to address their employment support needs, together with government, once and for all.
If there is anything we as a society have learned during this crisis, it’s to never underestimate the power of community. There are no limits to what we can achieve when we work as one. The COVID-19 Housing and Employment Taskforce was created with this principle in mind, and I look forward to working with the sector over the coming weeks and months.
We will get through this by working together and working with one common purpose.