Professor Ken Gibb: Progress, ambition and scope to improve
As the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence marks its second-anniversary director, Professor Ken Gibb, reflects on what we have achieved so far and highlights some areas we still need to work on.
It’s been two years since the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) was established. This seems a good opportunity to reflect on our progress, what we hope to do in the future, and also consider things we can do better.
The cornerstone of our second year has been the successful completion of our co-produced research agenda, which led to the implementation of more than twenty new projects over an 18 months period (many of which are now underway).
Encouraging debate and discussion continue to be a priority. Just in the last week, we published a contribution to the debate on the relative causes of housing market problems. The paper, Tackling the UK housing crisis: is supply the answer, by Ian Mulheirn was accompanied by two peer review commentaries by acknowledged experts in the field, Professor Geoff Meen and Professor Glen Bramley. Judging from the feedback we have received, this method of promoting debate has gone down well. These contested contributions to important housing questions may become a larger element and what we do in the future.
In our second year, we took on the role of funder and provided resources to five Knowledge Exchange Fund projects. Many of these projects are now in their final stages and we will be publishing their outputs over the coming months.
We have also embarked on a three-year partnership with the TDS Charitable Foundation and Safe Deposit Scotland Charitable Trust to put together a programme of research on raising the standards of the UK private rented sector. We published a background paper, The private rented sector in the UK in July and the first projects are now underway. We were also delighted to welcome a new Research Associate, Dr Jennifer Harris, who will be working on this programme.
A further positive development over the last 12 months has been our focus on the impact we have on local communities. Following a meeting in Glasgow with CaCHE Advisory Board Chair, Lord Kerslake, we decided to emulate our UK-wide Knowledge Exchange Hubs with one locally in the East End of Glasgow. We have now held two successful meetings and are actively developing a co-produced research agenda to take forward. If this model works well, we intend to run it in other parts of the UK.
While we are pleased with the progress we are making, we have always taken the view that we can learn from things that didn’t go well and be open to trying new things. While our newsletters and publications are widely read, we recognise that we probably do not reach all the groups, communities and the range of researcher and evidence users that we would want. Our network could be more attuned to this wide-ranging set of needs found in the UK housing system as a whole. We can do better to access the groups who are difficult to reach and we welcome any advice or suggestions on how to do so.
Personally, I continue to greatly enjoy the work we are doing and my role within it. I am privileged to have the opportunity to lead this project and I greatly appreciate the efforts made by our core team at the University of Glasgow and the University of Sheffield, as well as our management team, Co-Investigators and staff across the UK.
As we approach the halfway point in our funding, we continue to seek to do important, rigorous, evidenced work to improve housing policy and practice and to add capacity by developing new important sources of funding and research demands to enable the work of CaCHE to continue to grow and prosper.
- Professor Ken Gibb is director of the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence.