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UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence announces major new projects at London event

Date: 18/10/2017

The recently established UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) was officially launched at a Westminster event today where academics from across the UK announced a series of major research projects.

As it stands, many UK housing policies have been based on assumptions or beliefs rather than fact. Over the next five years UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence will work to ensure that policy makers and practitioners benefit from rigorous evidence which will contribute to tackling the UK’s housing problems at a national, devolved, regional, and local level.

The Centre, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and Joseph Rowntree Foundation, is a collaboration between ten universities and three non-higher education organisations. Staff are located at hubs across the UK in Glasgow, Sheffield, London, Reading, Cardiff and Belfast.

The Centre has been operating since 1st August and was officially launched at a networking event at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in London on 18th October to announce its work programme for this year, including major new research projects, a UK wide knowledge exchange network within the sector, and support for early career researchers.

During the event, Director and Principal Investigator, Professor Ken Gibb, provided more information about the programme of work that will be undertaken. These focus on the Centre’s six overlapping themes:

  • Housing and the economy;
  • Understanding housing markets: demand and need, supply and delivery;
  • Housing aspirations, choices and outcomes;
  • Housing, poverty, health, education and employment;
  • Housing and neighbourhood design, sustainability and place-making;
  • Multi-level governance.

Lord Bob Kerslake, former head of the Home Civil Service and Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government, is the Chair of the International Advisory Board.

He said: “After months of planning and preparation, Ken Gibb and his team are now embarking on important research on housing in the UK, an area that is widely and correctly seen to be a sector of the economy and society that is not working for too many people, in too many places and with too many wider negative consequences.

“I wish them well and look forward to the new international advisory board playing a major role in their work”.

Professor Gibb added: “CaCHE will generate a bank of evidence reviews and research that aims to fill important gaps and contribute to policy and practice development.

But it is also these wider roles that excite us so much: making a significant contribution to establishing the next cohort of housing researchers, using different channels to deepen and maintain networks between academia and those working in or making policies for the housing sector.

“This is potentially a second legacy from a research investment that primarily seeks to use evidence to influence policy and embed evidencing into making policy.”

Professor Tony McEnery, Interim Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council, said: “As a nation we face certain housing challenges such as a lack of affordable homes for young people, meeting the housing needs of an ageing population, building sustainable houses that are resilient to flooding and climate change, and tackling homelessness.

“We want to improve the UK’s growth and stability, but we also want to build strong communities and improve the wellbeing and prosperity of citizens. This requires effective housing policies and so it is vital that policymakers have the best evidence at hand when making decisions about what sort of houses to build, where and for whom.

“This Centre draws together internationally renowned experts across a diverse range of fields. It will serve as a vital national institution and provide a leading voice in the UK on housing issues.”

Alexandra Vincent, Associate Director of Programmes at the Arts and Humanities Research Council, said:
“The AHRC is delighted to congratulate Professor Gibb and the team on the launch of the Centre. The emphasis on how arts and humanities can contribute to a broader understanding and improved evidence base for housing policy and practice is especially welcome. Along with the other founders, we are looking forward to working with the CaCHE team to realise the exciting ambitions of the Centre.”

Brian Robson, Policy and Research Manager for housing at the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation said:
“The UK’s housing crisis has led to rising poverty and insecurity. But housing policy is also central to ensuring everyone in the UK can achieve a decent and secure standard of living. To stop high housing costs from driving down standards of living, we need a specific focus on evidence-based polices to make the market work for people on low incomes. I’m delighted JRF has been able to contribute to the establishment of this independent centre of expertise, with a presence in all four UK nations; and that consideration of the close links between housing and poverty will run throughout its work.”

How CaCHE will operate

CaCHE has received £6 million of funding from the ESRC, with support from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the AHRC. A further £1.5m of funding will come from the consortium itself.

Initially, the centre will carry out a scoping study concerned with what we know across key aspects of these themes. It will then carry out a dozen exemplar projects linked to the themes, often in partnership with other partners and other ESRC investments.

In order to prioritise the work from year two onwards, knowledge exchange hubs will be set up across the UK wherein intensive workshops representing stakeholders across the housing system will define what the agreed priorities will be. This will also include separate focus groups with residents to ensure that their voice is properly captured. This approach draws on the innovative approach adopted by Harvard University’s Tobin project model.

A fundamental element to the centre’s work will be the support offered to early career researchers, securing the future generation of housing academics. Alongside our PhD programme (up to 10 studentships), it will employ in total eight post-doctoral researchers and three knowledge exchange associates. There are also four early career co-investigators who will shadow and support the senior management team. Finally, there is also a significant secondment programme for senior as well as junior posts.

For further information contact:

Notes for editors

  1. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK’s largest funder of research on the social and economic questions facing us today. It supports the development and training of the UK’s future social scientists and also funds major studies that provide the infrastructure for research. ESRC-funded research informs policymakers and practitioners and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective. The ESRC also works collaboratively with six other UK research councils and Innovate UK to fund cross-disciplinary research and innovation addressing major societal challenges. The ESRC is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter in 1965, and funded mainly by the Government.
  2. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98 million to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits and contributes to the economic success of the UK but also to the culture and welfare of societies around the globe. You can find out more information by following us on Twitter at @ahrcpress, on Facebook at Arts and Humanities Research Council, or Instagram at @ahrcpress.
  3. JRF is an independent organisation working to inspire social change through research, policy and practice. For more information visit: www.jrf.org.uk
  4. The core partners are the Universities of Glasgow, Sheffield, Reading, Cardiff, Heriot-Watt, Bristol, Ulster, Sheffield Hallam, Adelaide and St Andrews. The non- academic partners in the consortium are: the Chartered Institute of Housing, the Royal Town Planning Institute, and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. An international advisory board will be chaired by Lord Kerslake, former Head of the Home Civil Service.
    CaCHE’s administration will be located in Glasgow but there will also be hubs in Sheffield, Cardiff and London. Apart from the 29 co-investigators from the partner organisations, the programme will involve 220 named individual collaborators and more than 12 additional non-academic partners.
    A housing data navigator hub will be based at the University of Cardiff, and CaCHE will operate a “network of networks” to share existing expertise by working with, and add to, rather than duplicating the many excellent existing professional, policy and practice networks that cover discrete housing sectors and UK regions.
  5. Key CaCHE facts:
    The core management of CaCHE is made up of Kenneth Gibb (PI, Director, University of Glasgow), Craig Watkins (Research Director, University of Sheffield), Gavin Smart (Communications and KE Director, Chartered Institute of Housing), Scott Orford (Data Director, University of Cardiff) and a centre manager, plus a wider management team made up of Co-Investigators-s who have theme lead or regional KE hub management responsibilities.
    There are four early career researchers who will shadow and support the team, as well as 5 knowledge exchange staff and 8 (2 year) Post-Doc RFs split between Glasgow and Sheffield.
    The work programme involves in the first year - 12 exemplar/pilot projects including three with complementary ESRC investments: What Works Scotland, the Administrative Data Research Centre and Urban Big Data Centre. There are also up to 10 PhDs (three fees-only) all funded by institutional support.
    Key features of our approach are that:
    1. CaCHE will operate across the UK from 5 subnational knowledge exchange hubs, each represented by the key non-academic stakeholders in local housing systems, plus a UK level version (a second role for the international advisory board);
    2. CaCHE is committed to being multi-disciplinary across the social sciences and fully engaging with Arts & Humanities researchers
    3. CaCHE is wholly committed to co-production with the wider housing non- academic community and will pursue this through the use of workshops to generate consensus through intensive facilitated discussion in order to prioritise evidence review and then subsequently primary research priorities.
  6. University of Glasgow
    As a top 1% university, we deliver world-class and world-changing research and education with impact. We are a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK Universities, are connected to seven Nobel Laureates, and 81% of our research is judged to be internationally excellent.
    Recent award success can be found here: http://www.gla.ac.uk/about/awardsandrankings
  7. Policy Scotland is the University of Glasgow’s public policy research and knowledge exchange hub which offers a unique bridge between researchers and policy makers – aiming to take the best policy ideas produced at the University from research to implementation, and to enhance the University’s reputation as a national and international leader in public policy.
  8. The University of Sheffield
    With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.
    A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.
    Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in. Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For- Profit Organisations to Work For 2017 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.
    Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.
  9. More information about the Tobin Project Model can be found here: https://tobinproject.org/tobin-project-model
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