Ken Gibb is the Director of the ESRC UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) and is professor of housing economics at the University of Glasgow. He has recently also worked as co-director of What Works Scotland and was the founding director of the University’s knowledge exchange body for policy research, Policy Scotland. He is a trustee of the Urban Studies Foundation and is chair of Sanctuary Scotland housing association.
The UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) started its real work last week, kicking off with a launch event in London. Four of 13 initial projects are underway, as well as four linked PhDs.
In the next few months, the Centre will focus on completing its operational set-up, starting further projects and establishing five regional knowledge-exchange ‘hubs’. Each hub will bring together people who represent the local housing system.
We will also run our first events and start the wider work of re-engaging with the many people and organisations who told us that they want to work with us to improve housing policy and practice through better use of evidence.
CaCHE has six broad objectives:
- Establishing an independent research centre
- Providing evidence that fills gaps in knowledge
- Helping people to understand what knowledge we have in housing policy and practice
- Promoting innovation and helping researchers across the UK to generate good evidence
- Promoting use of available data through the development and sharing of data
- Learning from the past to inform the future of housing policy and practice.
CaCHE will cover the whole of the UK. We will be inclusive, multi-disciplinary and use a range of research methods. We are also committed to co-production and knowledge-exchange through five dedicated staff who share our focus on the translation, dissemination and communication of our findings.
We are organised around six research themes:
- Housing and the economy
- Understanding the housing market
- Aspirations, choice and housing pathways
- Housing and its relations to health, education, employment, poverty, inequality, etc.
- Place-making, design and neighbourhoods
- Multi-level governance
We also have an additional cross-cutting work strand on homelessness
We chose a dozen initial exemplar projects – including evidence reviews – on issues such as homelessness prevention, housing taxation and international policy transfer, that is, taking the best policies from other countries and finding out whether they could apply here too. We also have projects with complementary research investments, such as the Urban Big Data Centre.
We want to ensure that our work is genuinely co-produced. Therefore, we will be borrowing an idea from Harvard University’s Tobin project. We will also use our hubs as intensive deliberative workshops. We know how difficult it can be to have meaningful participation from residents and citizens in such ‘expert’ settings, so we will also hold “resident voice” focus groups in each locale to find out what they think.
Our first 12 months
In our first year we are undertaking a scoping review and 12 exemplar projects, which are mainly evidence reviews relevant to housing. We are also running a number of events. For example, we are holding a meeting in Reading about the future of new-build social housing in the light of the upcoming green paper. We will also hold an annual Scottish housing policy conference.
Part of the community
CaCHE is distributed across the UK. Our administrative hub is in Glasgow but we also have a presence at universities such as Sheffield, Cardiff, Reading, Bristol, St Andrews, Ulster, Adelaide and Heriot-Watt. In Glasgow, the Centre is located in the city’s east end at the University’s social sciences research hub in Bridgeton, where we co-locate with the local urban regeneration company, Clyde Gateway, and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health. We aim to work closely with our new colleagues and the local community to ensure that part of the CaCHE legacy is to make a positive impact the lives of the people of Bridgeton and beyond.
Leaving a legacy
The most important academic legacy we aim to leave is the contribution made to the next cohort of housing researchers in the UK. We will fund eight post doc housing researchers and three post doc housing knowledge exchange associates, and we will generate up to 10 PhDs linked to CaCHE. In addition, there are four early career co-investigators who are developing an early career research network for CaCHE and they will also play a management shadowing role throughout the programme. The early career focus is enhanced by an extensive programme of secondments operating in both directions between academia and policy and practice.
Find out more at housingevidence.ac.uk.
You can follow @housingevidence on Twitter.