England & Wales, Scotland Communities and society, Housing and planning, Welfare and equalities

Helping local authorities to tackle homelessness through data and evidence


Large numbers of people continue to be affected by homelessness across the UK. Homelessness devastates lives and is a systemic, stubborn, and cyclical issue for those it affects. At the Centre, we are committed to ending homelessness with evidence.

Across the UK, local authorities are on the frontline of the homelessness crisis, working hard to support those most in need. In 2019, we launched our What Works Community Pilot designed to help local authorities to improve their use of evidence and data to achieve breakthrough results in tackling homelessness in their area. Supporting action at the local level is key to any effort to build capacity to use evidence to end homelessness.

Moving into 2021, we are excited to launch a new cohort of our What Works Community and expand our network of partners who are committed to improving their use of evidence at the local level. Our newest cohort of local authorities come from across the UK, representing more than £400m annual spend on housing and homelessness services.

The 2021 iteration of the What Works Community features three different ways for partners to work with us:

Evidence accelerator

The local authorities taking part in the Evidence Accelerator will take part in an intensive journey to decrease the use of temporary accommodation in their local area. To help them to respond to the challenge, we have brought together experts from the Centre for Homelessness Impact, Johns Hopkins University, the Behavioural Insights Team, and IDEO with deep knowledge of data science and capacity building, behavioural science, evaluation, and design, to share their skills and give local authorities the ability to respond with new skills and capabilities.

Over a series of touchpoints including workshops, 1-1 coaching sessions and peer sharing, local authorities will design new interventions to address homelessness and improve their capacity to identify and use what works.

Evidence academy

The Evidence academy is a structured programme of learning that will support local authorities to achieve a broad understanding of knowledge about data and evidence in the field of homelessness. The programme will focus on developing a culture of continuous innovation by strengthening their ability to act on insight from data and evidence. You will learn by doing – undertaking an expert-guided programme, rooted in real local challenges.

Open community

Local authorities taking part in the open community will have the opportunity to access tools, resources and events to help them to improve their use of evidence and data in dealing with their local homelessness challenges.

Throughout the programme we will co-develop material to inform open-access tools and pioneer a new way of collaborative, data-driven and person-centred working: building the wider What Works Community of practice. This will encourage a learning culture at scale and build a community to facilitate learning between areas. CHI intends to nurture ideas from that community and build a pipeline of locally-designed trials that everyone will benefit from. Longer-term, CHI will explore other themes with more areas in order to build knowledge of what works and capacity for using evidence and data at scale.

We can’t wait to start work with the local authorities on the What Works Community Programme, and look forward to supporting them to build capacity to use evidence. The needs of local authorities are as varied as the communities they represent, and we’re excited to be working with a variety of new councils who bring unique challenges to the table. What they all have in common is their commitment to improving the lives of their citizens and an understanding that making more effective use of data and evidence can aid them in their goals.

They have difficult jobs to do, but we want to make them easier by helping them to be more effective. That’s why we’re excited to be partnering with some of the world’s experts in behavioural science, evaluation, data science and design to give local authorities the tools required to increase their capacity to tackle a multitude of challenges and deliver innovative solutions.

Recruitment for the What Works Community is still open, and if you’re interested in participating we’d love to hear from you. Visit our website or contact us on [email protected].


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