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New research centre to inform housing policy in the UK

Thursday 06 April 2017

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The University of St Andrews is a key partner in a new UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) announced today.

The Centre 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. 

Housing has a considerable impact on our society and economy. Almost 1 in 10 British jobs are in the housing sector, and more than a fifth of household spending goes on rent, mortgage payments, home repairs, maintenance and improvements. The availability, cost and design of housing impacts on people’s aspirations, their health and wellbeing, and even their children’s education. Failure of housing markets leads to wider social and economic problems, chief among them poverty and homelessness.

Dr Kim McKee, Director of the Centre for Housing Research at St Andrews and Senior Lecturer in the School of Geography and Sustainable Development, is a key partner in the centre. She brings expertise in housing inequalities, drawing on her recent research on ‘generation rent’ which highlights an emerging housing aspirations gap.

Dr McKee said: “Housing is fundamental to understanding contemporary patterns of social-spatial inequality in the UK. It has an acute impact on a vast array of individual and societal outcomes, from health and well-being to economic growth.

“CaCHE provides a critical opportunity to mobilise inter-disciplinary expertise, and bring together key partners from across the UK and internationally, to develop real solutions for housing policy and practice.”

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 (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.”


Background information

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.

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. Find out more on Twitter at @ahrcpress, on Facebook at Arts and Humanities Research Council, or Instagram at @ahrcpress.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) is an independent organisation working to inspire social change through research, policy and practice.

The core partners are the Universities of Glasgow, Sheffield, Reading, Cardiff, Heriot-Watt, Bristol, Ulster, Sheffield Hallam and St Andrews; along with the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. 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 adding to, rather than duplicating the many excellent existing professional, policy and practice networks that cover discrete housing sectors and UK regions.  

Dr Kim McKee is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Geography and Sustainable Development, and Director of the Centre for Housing Research at the University of St Andrews.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office, contactable on 01334 467310/2530 or proffice@st-andrews.ac.uk.