Sector: Housing & tackling homelessness
Service: Exploring social investment
Academic research suggests that every year 80,000 young people in the UK experience homelessness. Demand for private sector accommodation by vulnerable and at risk groups has never been higher, as social housing is strained just to meet the needs of those covered by statutory duty. Reductions in housing benefit levels and the bedroom tax have increased demand for smaller units, which are typically sought by single young people.
Moving On was established 17 years ago to break the cycle of youth homelessness in County Durham. It works with people who are 16 – 25 years and offers a range of services including assistance in obtaining and maintaining a tenancy, information advice and guidance to young people who are homeless or affected by homelessness and counselling. Last year, it supported over 300 young people, who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
In response to cuts in government funding for advisory services and housing benefit and a shortage of affordable and suitable housing for young people, Moving On opened a social lettings agency in 2015. Moving On Housing leases and manages good quality accommodation, which it then lets to young people receiving tenancy training and other education and employment support from Moving On in order to bring them closer to independent living.
Moving On asked Numbers for Good for help in evaluating the best way to develop its social letting activity, specifically addressing questions about the revenue model, organisational structure and funding for growth.
We rooted our advice in a detailed review of the market and policy landscape for housing and homelessness. The financial model we built for Moving On accommodated a wide range of scenarios on contextual factors such as house prices, rental rates and housing benefit levels. This in turn informed recommendations on a leasing-based business model and the relevance of social investment, which we stress-tested in workshops with management and then with the Board of Trustees.
In the case of Moving On, we felt that our collaborative approach paid off two-fold resulting in better informed analysis and recommendations for the business plan and contributing to the development of new skills and knowledge within the management team. Although the conclusion was that taking on social investment to acquire properties was not appropriate in the near-term given uncertainties about benefit eligibility, at the end of the project Moving On had greater capacity to evaluate its business and financial prospects, as well the relevance of social investment in a constantly changing environment.
Nigel Van Zwanenberg , Manager chair, Moving On said:
“We certainly found the model very useful in clarifying and informing a potentially difficult decision process. The trustees were impressed not just by the financial model but also by Numbers for Good’s support and explanation throughout the process.”
Photo credit Conor Lawless