An interim evaluation report reviewing the first year of the Freedom2Work (F2W) project has been produced by Professor Jo Richardson and her team at Du Montfort University.

The report considers how the initial first  year of this five year project supported by Commonweal has gone. It explores how the pilot project is delivering against the original hypothesis and whether the interventions and service being delivered on the ground by Elmbridge RentStart are working and having a positive impact for the individuals. The full report can be viewed here.

Within the report the evaluators commented on the positive value that F2W clients are receiving through the project. Special comment was also made on the beneficial partnership between Commonweal and Elmbridge Rent Start, with the evaluation noting how Commonweal continues to provide Elmbridge Rentstart with the freedom to develop the project whilst incubating them from risk. The importance of the stable housing provided by F2W in helping tenants get back to work alongside the value of the F2W interventions and shared living in building tenants confidence is also praised by the evaluators.

The report also called for greater scrutiny over the key elements and precise definitions of the main interventions of the project, whilst highlighting that, in the evaluators opinion, 22 property units represented the optimum cohort for the delivery of F2W; this in particular will be explored further as the project continues.

At the heart of the recommendations outlined in the evaluation is the call for further clarification and scrutiny over key elements of the project. These included the question around whether clients were ‘saving’ or building a rent deposit’ with some of the tenants preferring to save the money for items other than a rent deposit.

Further recommendations included:

  • A call for precise definitions of the main interventions of the project and the exact hypothesis being tested over the remainder of the period
  • The call for a clearer focus more on expanding the portfolio of ‘move-on’ accommodation stock
  • Greater consideration of different channels into working with the private sector both through traditional social landlords and social letting agencies

Over the next year Commonweal will continue to work closely with both Professor Richardson and Elmbridge RentStart to monitor the progress of Freedom2Work against the original project hypothesis.

As the project progresses and gathers further actionable learning, Commonweal will, with the evaluators support, review Freedom2Work’s ability to build tenants resilience as they return to work.

This will provide us with a clear picture by the end of the pilot phase of the project of what actions or interventions are reaping rewards and how others might wish to deliver the project on the ground to replicate Freedom to Works successes.

To accompany the publication of the full report, an executive summary has also been produced which can be viewed here