Why Social Value Means So Much More Than Just Virtue Signalling

Benefits of social values

Value is a word that can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. As they say, one person’s trash is another’s treasure and what might be an asset to one company could be seen as a hindrance to another. However, it seems clear that when Housing Associations give support to people in the community it serves, it benefits society as a whole.

This is the concept of social value and it’s one that many organisations have started to take seriously in recent years. Social value represents a fundamental shift in how organisations assess their impact on society, moving beyond mere profit-making to prioritise the well-being of the communities they serve. For housing associations that work with vulnerable people and provide a necessary service, that value is worth a thousandfold.

While some critics may dismiss it as virtue signalling, we feel that being able to provide proof of your value to society is a necessary boon in today’s world. If you want to learn why, then read on!

Understanding Social Value

Social value can be defined loosely as the tangible and intangible benefits that an organisation creates for society through its activities and operations. For housing associations, which play a vital role in providing affordable and safe housing for vulnerable communities, social value is intricately linked to their core mission.

Their value goes beyond financial considerations and encompasses a wide range of factors. For example, a good housing association is committed to improving the well-being of not only their tenants (by fostering within them a sense of empowerment and trust) but the wider community. This includes initiatives to enhance physical and mental health, education, employment opportunities, and overall quality of life.

Many housing associations also work hard to promote social inclusion and diversity, creating more inclusive environments where all individuals, regardless of background or circumstances, have equal access to housing and community services. By providing affordable housing and supporting local businesses, housing associations can also contribute to economic stability and prosperity within the local community.

The Significance of Social Value for Housing Associations

A Housing association’s commitment to social value is rooted in its mission to cultivate positive and lasting change within the community it serves.


Social value assessment holds housing associations accountable for their actions. It ensures that they are delivering on their promises to create better living conditions and opportunities for their tenants.

Strategic Decision-Making

By quantifying social value, housing associations can make informed decisions about resource allocation and program development. This allows them to focus on initiatives that have the most significant impact on their communities.

Attracting Investment

Demonstrating a commitment to social value can attract investors, partners, and stakeholders who share the same values. This can lead to increased funding and support for housing association projects.

Enhancing Reputation

A strong track record of social value creation enhances the reputation of housing associations. It builds trust among tenants, communities, and policymakers, which can be invaluable in advocating for social housing needs.

Sustainable Impact

Social value assessment ensures that the positive impact of housing associations endures over time. It encourages continuous improvement and innovation in service delivery.

The HACT Methodology

One critical tool that housing associations use to quantify and measure their social value impact is the HACT Methodology Note for Wellbeing Values. Developed by HACT, a UK-based housing research and innovation organisation, this methodology provides a structured framework for assessing the holistic benefits housing associations bring to their communities.

The methodology works by first gathering data on various social and economic indicators within the community and then using well-being metrics to evaluate the impact of a housing association on tenant well-being. These metrics encompass everything from physical and mental health to safety, social inclusion, and overall life satisfaction.

Once the data is collected and well-being metrics are established, a valuation process by the HACT Social Value Bank (SVB) assigns monetary value to the social and well-being benefits created by that housing association. It’s not an exact science, of course, but it is a tangible methodology that helps housing associations generate detailed reports that can articulate the positive social impact they deliver. These reports go beyond financial statements and provide a clear picture of how housing associations contribute to the well-being of their communities.

The ECCO Solution

For small housing associations the digital world offers immense potential to enhance operations and tenant experience in a way that provides inherent social value. With a strategic approach, the right tools, and a focus on security, even smaller providers can reap the benefits of digital transformation, ensuring they remain competitive and efficient in an increasingly digital world.

ECCO has built a digital management software package designed specifically for the supported housing sector that is engineered to make life better for the millions of people in the UK in shared living facilities. It’s a smart, approachable, and flexible system that automate takes, brings all data points together into a cohesive package and allows staff more free time to focus on what really matters – the people.

Contact us today and our team will get you sorted with a free ECCO demo and explore exactly what the software can offer your enterprise.