Constructing Homes, Rebuilding Lives


Ellie Jenkins


The UK is facing an increasingly stark reality due to years of underinvestment in social housing. The resultant ‘structural deficit’ in the supply of social housing, has pushed public spending on housing benefits and temporary accommodation to a record high (more than £1.6 billion in 2021-2022).

Frequently far from a temporary living situation, living in ‘temporary’ accommodation can have a significant impact on people, mentally, physically and financially, affecting all aspects of life including their employment, education, social networks and wellbeing.

To understand more fully the positive impact that high quality social housing can have, Akerlof partnered with Housing Festival to undertake a Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis.

What we did

After carrying out research into temporary accommodation across England, we engaged with a range of residents to ask about their experience of moving into settled homes. Open questions were used to discover what was important to them, and we validated our findings by speaking with system stakeholders, such as GPs, housing associations, homelessness service providers, charities and children specialists.

Taking this feedback, we developed a survey to gather quantifiable responses from residents and, using a robust methodology, undertook a Social Return on Investment (SROI) calculation from the data provided.

The impact

  • An insightful socio-economic analysis report, with engaging data visualisations that clearly communicate the positive stories of change
  • Compelling narrative that makes the case for increased delivery of high quality social housing, serving as a foundation for future engagement with local authority partners, residents and community groups
  • One-to-one engagement with residents and focus groups with key stakeholders provided a broad and realistic picture of people’s lived experiences
  • Robust methodology for calculating SROI, which others can use to broaden future analyses and incorporate additional data with ease

Don't just take our word for it...

We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to partner with Akerlof to deliver a joint piece of research and a powerful Social Return on Investment (SROI) report, monetising the impact of settled homes for formerly homeless families. The findings of this research add weight to case for accelerating the supply of new social homes and speak into our shared ambition to call-out (and capture), the wider social and economic benefits of construction activity, including offsite manufactured housing.
Akerlof’s experience in undertaking social value analyses, combined with their creative and professional approach to shaping, conducting, reporting, and disseminating this study, have hugely benefitted the output and made the collaborative research process a joy to be part of.

Ellen Grist, Research and Evaluation Lead, Housing Festival

Jamie Hillier


With a penchant for tweed and jackets with leather arm patches, Jamie began his career as a quantity surveyor, before climbing the ladder to lead major projects for a Tier 1 contractor.

Eventually expanding his book collection beyond copies of SMM7, Jamie has interest in a broad range of subjects linked to delivering better outcomes for society and the environment.

His strategic insights on MMC and behavioural science have made their way into numerous government, industry and academic publications, including the Construction Playbook, Transforming Infrastructure Performance Roadmap to 2030, the Platform Rulebook and the RIBA DfMA Overlay.

John Handscomb


Construction is in John’s blood. Learning from his father who was a planner and project manager, John began his career by working on some iconic projects in both the public and private sector.

As a procurement expert and integrator of new ways of working, John has pioneered the integration of platform principles, DfMA processes and supply chain within over £5bn projects in the last 15 years, for some of the largest building programmes in the UK. Despite his considerable expertise, John keeps it simple, communicating complicated ideas with ease and helping to equip the industry with new knowledge and skills.

Outside of Akerlof, John enjoys his executive role with technology start-up ScanTech Digital, spending time with his family, taking trips down the football, playing a bit of golf with friends and the odd pint. 

Our name is shared with George Akerlof, a Nobel Prize-winning economist.

His seminal paper, Market for Lemons, demonstrated the devastating consequences of making decisions under the conditions of quality uncertainty and unequal information between buyers and sellers, increasing the chance of buyers ending up with a ‘lemon’.

This 50-year-old concept continues to retain parallels within the construction industry.

Through our insight and experience, we can rebalance this information asymmetry on behalf of our clients, levelling the playing field to deliver better outcomes.