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The help gap: directing residents to resources has become all of our jobs now - an us blog for the Chartered Institute of Housing

With a reported £15 billion of unclaimed benefits, this blog examines how organisations can make sure their hardship funds and resources are being utilised by those in need, and the tools organisations can use to help the hard to reach people most in need.

us news: September 2022

Launch of the third Resident Voice Index™ report; "Surviving but not living": The Experience of the Cost of Living Crisis for Social Housing Residents’.

Latest survey undertaken by MRI Software with us finds that of over 5,200 social housing residents in the UK, over half (53%) had used credit or buy-now-pay-later services to cover their monthly household essential needs. A further 20% had considered using these services, representing risks to household stability, housing providers, and more widely, to the economy.

Answers from survey takers built a compelling testimony of the challenges affecting households in the UK presently, including price inflation, wage stagnation and benefits depletion. When this topic was proposed, the hard-hitting nature of the content of the responses was anticipated by the research team.

“With the cost of living rising and the extortionate price of energy, I do wonder how I’m going to afford to heat my house come winter and have enough money to feed my children.”

Survey respondent

Beyond these predictions, the analysis of the results revealed shockingly high levels of distress in response to rising prices, feelings of hopelessness, rising personal debt and extreme changes to behaviour, such as going without meals to feed children and only eating cold meals to avoid using energy. In numerous entries there was reference to devastating mental health slides and to suicide. The results are a concerning indication of the state of the nation and a warning for how things could deteriorate for many in the face of continued hardship.

“Cannot think as too desperate.”

Survey respondent

Key findings:

  • 68% were worried about being able to meet normal monthly living expenses all or most of the time
  • Over half (56%) of respondents didn’t know that help or support would be available to them if they faced a financial struggle
  • Over half (53%) had used credit or buy-now-pay-later services to cover their monthly household essential needs
  • 38% of those used these services often
  • Approaching 9 in 10 people under 35 were currently using or considering using buy-now-pay-later services or credit to pay for essential household costs
  • 82% of under 35s reported being worried all or most of the time about meeting normal monthly living expenses

There were some reasons to be hopeful however, as answers showed resilience from respondents. Credence was given to the power of connectedness within communities to help people through hard times and a vision for a more equitable future delivered through green energy. For housing providers immediate actions resided for survey takers in providing decent homes free of damp, ensuring realistic affordability and improving communications with residents about what support is available to them in times of need.

“People need to gain a sense of individual hope in order to help create hope in their community.  At the moment a lot of people feel they cannot affect their own material future, no matter how hard the try.”

Survey respondent

The report was launched last week at flagship Chartered Institute of Housing event, Housing 2022, where we were in attendance. For those who couldn’t make it, a copy of the full report can be downloaded here.

“This report from the Resident Voice Index™ couldn’t come at a more pressing time. The cost of living crisis is affecting millions across the country and these research findings shine a light on the devastating impact it’s having on social housing residents.”

Alistair McIntosh, CEO, Housing Quality Network

If you would like to talk to us about our work contact us here.

us news: July 2022

Addressing Domestic Abuse partnership

us marketing are proud to announce a new partnership with Addressing Domestic Abuse (ADA). A pioneering social enterprise set up by Dr Kelly Henderson, ADA’s mission is simple: to put an end to domestic abuse.

us is working with ADA to support the creation of the brand, website and associated e-learning to accompany face-to-face training, as well as develop the business and communications strategy.

The regulatory environment for social housing is set to change with the Social Housing White Paper setting out the intention that housing providers will be regulated in their response to domestic abuse, along with the landmark Domestic Abuse Act passed in 2021. Against this backdrop, ADA has been set up to support those working in the social housing sector to embed new processes around domestic abuse and ensure compliance.

ADA believes in the coordinated community response to domestic abuse. it’s vision is that the voices of survivors and residents of social housing should  influence how organisations recognise and respond to domestic abuse, and seeks to raise awareness of domestic abuse in communities.

Dr Kelly Henderson was named 24 Housing’s ‘Housing Professional of the Year’ for her work and research on housing and domestic abuse and named in the top 20 women leaders in Housing in 2020. With a career dedicated to the addressing domestic abuse, Kelly will draw on this experience to continue to support housing providers and associated supply chains to play their part to end domestic abuse.

Speaking of the partnership, Dr Kelly Henderson said: “Addressing Domestic Abuse are really pleased to have the opportunity to work with us marketing.

“They have developed our brand identity and communications so we can make the most impact in reaching a wide range of organisations to support them in addressing domestic abuse. 

“As well as their expertise and commitment to supporting ADA to achieve its aims, they are a real pleasure to work with; warm, fun and vibrant with a real desire to make a difference!”

Addressing Domestic Abuse

Account Director at us marketing, Rebecca Fraser reciprocated: “We have known Kelly for a number of years through our work in the social housing sector and her unrivalled expertise, as well as her passion for the work that she delivers has always been inspiring.

“We are so proud to have the opportunity to now support Kelly in the next stage of her vital work. The ethos behind ADA is immensely powerful and it is one that we can’t wait to support ADA in communicating within the social housing sector.

“This is an opportunity for us to help make real change happen and we are so grateful to Kelly for putting her trust in us to help her deliver it.”

For more information about the work that ADA does, visit the website here.

us news: April 2022

Resident Voice Index™ report launches

Young people hit hardest through the lockdowns, Survey of social housing residents shows

Nearly seven in 10 social housing residents surveyed (69%) aren’t hopeful for the future of their local community after lockdown, according to the latest output from the Resident Voice Index™ initiative. The Community Support & Life After Lockdown report is based on a survey of more than 4,100 respondents from across the UK, who expressed their views on how the pandemic impacted their levels of loneliness, resilience and optimism.

Adults under 35 were the age group most affected, the survey revealed. Members of this age group emerged as the loneliest overall and were more likely to fall into ‘extreme’ loneliness, with more than twice as many feeling lonely “often/always” than before the pandemic (33% compared to 16%). Compounding these findings, this group displayed the lowest levels of resilience and were more likely to dislike where they lived. Nearly 4 in 10 (37%) were notably pessimistic about their future.  This finding echoed previous results from the Resident Voice Index™, which showed low levels of residents feeling safe and belonging to their neighbourhood amongst this age group.

Where a resident lived also made a difference, with villages coming out on top as the best places to live in the UK for social housing residents. Those living in villages liked where they lived the most, reported the lowest levels of loneliness (17%), and maintained the highest degrees of resilience compared with pre-lockdown levels. Villages showed the highest numbers of people who didn’t feel lonely (43%) or had no change in feelings of loneliness (57%). Nearly 4 in 10 of them (37%) also said they felt optimistic about a post-lockdown future, compared to 28% of those living in cities.

Project lead Doug Sarney said: “These results really dig into the effects of the pandemic on UK social housing residents. The report suggests interventions that housing providers and policy makers could make in order to improve levels of resilience, optimism and social cohesion whilst combatting loneliness in those areas where it is needed the most.”

He adds that specific suggestions in the report include: “Younger people need support to counter the fact that they have been significantly harder hit by the lockdown. Communities could also look to the life experiences of older residents to provide clues for elevated levels of resilience. Furthermore, the answer to raising the quality of life may lie in recreating village-like environments in new urban development projects.”


Across the pandemic, the negative impact in terms of loneliness and resilience evidenced by the Resident Voice Index™ may be expected, but the scale of the change is substantial. The free-text answers given by respondents showed a great need for support and help in the immediate future, with the requirements of younger people looking to be some of the most urgent to address. 

For housing providers, analysis of the index scores shows that reporting a good relationship with a provider corresponds with higher levels of resilience, optimism and not feeling lonely. Moreover, it may foster hopefulness for the future, since people who are aware of the actions of their housing provider are more than twice as likely (57% vs 25%) to be optimistic about the future of their local community.

Other key survey findings include:

  • Over half of social housing residents were experiencing loneliness by the end of 2021, and almost 4 in 10 respondents reported an increase in their overall loneliness because of the lockdowns
  • Almost twice as many social housing residents (30%) answering the Community Support & Life After Lockdown survey reported being lonely ‘Often/Always’, compared to those asked by the more general English Housing Survey (17%) in December 2021.
  • In late 2021, 61% of these social housing respondents classified themselves as being ‘resilient’. Those levels were a 10% reduction from March 2020. Older respondents had higher levels of resilience, which shifted less as a result of the lockdowns.

The Resident Voice Index™ is an independent project that anonymously gathers the views of social housing residents in the UK. Developed by MRI Software, a trusted provider of software to the social housing sector and wider property market, the short surveys are designed to provide policy makers and housing providers with insights from residents about their neighbourhoods and communities, along with interventions that could improve them. The goal of the project is to ensure the voice of the resident is heard to improve the experiences of social housing residents.

You can download a copy of this report at

us news: February 2022

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