Sheffield Hallam key research partner in new ESRC centre informing UK housing policy

Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) has been announced as a key partner in the new UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE).

CaCHE will launch on 1 August 2017 for five years and will receive £6 million of funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), with support from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). A further £1.5m of funding will come from the consortium itself.

The new national research centre, which will be independent from government and other interests, is a collaboration between nine UK universities and four non-HEI organisations.

The impact of housing policy on society and the economy has been widely reported in the last 12 months. Almost one in 10 British jobs are in the housing sector, and more than a fifth of household spending goes on rent, mortgage payments, home repairs and improvements, whilst the failure of housing markets are increasingly linked to wider social and economic problems, chief among them poverty and homelessness.

CRESR is a leading UK policy research centre which examines the impact of social and economic disadvantage on places and people, and assesses the policies and interventions targeted at these issues.

Professor Paul Hickman, who will be part of the CRESR team which will be led Dr Kesia Reeve, said: “Housing has always been a key policy concern in the UK. But in recent years, it has achieved even greater prominence as governments have had to grapple with a range of complex issues including: a lack of affordable housing in many of parts of the country; the challenges associated with housing an ageing population; a housing stock which is showing signs of obsolescence and fatigue; and, the challenge of ensuring that younger households are able to access affordable, high quality housing and home ownership.

“The creation of the CaCHE will develop our understanding of these issues and others, in doing so, helping to highlight ways that they may be tackled.”

CaCHE aims to advance knowledge of the housing system, provide robust evidence to inform housing policy and practice across the UK, and bring together a wide range of stakeholders with the goal of tackling housing problems at a national, devolved, regional and local level.

The work of the programme will focus on 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.

Professor Ken Gibb from the University of Glasgow will be Principal Investigator and Director of CaCHE. He said: “I am delighted that the University of Glasgow and our partners will be taking the lead on this incredibly important subject. The serious and complex problems of the housing system are too important to ignore. This is why I’m looking forward to this major new initiative making a serious contribution to tackling one of the most pressing policy problems in the UK today.”

Professor Jane Elliott, CEO of the Economic and Social Research Council, said: “As a nation we face key housing challenges, such as a lack of affordable housing preventing young people from owning their own home, meeting the housing needs of an ageing population, building sustainable houses that are resilient to flooding and climate change, and tackling homelessness.

“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.”