Last year, we surveyed members to explore the relationships between housing associations, partnership managers at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Jobcentre Plus. The analysis revealed that relationships with partnership managers was negatively impacted by high staff turnover during the pandemic. The survey also revealed that this was particularly difficult for larger housing associations who operated across a number of regions Of course, for housing associations partnership managers are key contacts at the DWP. For communication and consistency to improve in the DWP’s service delivery, these relationships are key.
The department held discussions with housing associations and their partnership managers to understand existing challenges and identify good practice. Housing associations got the opportunity to present directly to the DWP about their experiences of their service over the past two years. As a result of these discussions and the survey results, the DWP will explore the possibility of assigning partnership managers to assist larger housing associations that work across multiple local authority areas and job centres. Where housing associations cover a vast geographical area and engage with several district partnership managers, the DWP will consider the most effective way to manage these relationships, for instance, by establishing regional partnership managers.
The DWP have also introduced a section in their Homeless and Housing toolkit which specifically discusses the role and experiences of housing associations specifically. This is available to over 2000 partnership managers and work coaches includes a number of case studies illustrating examples of good practice. The toolkit seeks to build the capability of Work Coaches to deliver the right support at the right time and promote better working relationships with housing associations.
We are continuing to work closely with the department to identify and promote best practice to improve working relationships that lead to successful outcomes.