Regeneration and Renewal

First for regeneration

Evaluation Lessons - Initiative boosts keyworker hiring

Friday, 14 October 2005


Project: Key Worker Living (KWL)

Period of evaluation: 2004-2005

Evaluating organisation: GHK Consulting and the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies at the University of Birmingham.

Evaluation commissioned by: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM).

Aims and outline of project: KWL is a £690 million ODPM-funded programme, launched last year, that aims to address recruitment and retention problems by providing housing solutions to key front-line personnel in public services, such as education, health and community safety.

Scope of evaluation report: To provide early feedback to the ODPM regarding the implementation of the KWL programme and outline the key issues that have emerged.


Adam Fineberg writes: Helping workers buy their own homes is an effective way of improving both the recruitment and retention of staff in front-line public services, according to this evaluation. The KWL programme, it asserts, gives teachers, police officers and nurses low-risk access to the housing market and is good value for money.

Four years ago, according to most of the employers who were interviewed in this evaluation, the recruitment and retention of keyworkers had reached crisis point. But the employers went on to say that the Government's subsequent housing interventions - notably the Starter Home Initiative (SHI), the predecessor to KWL, as well as KWL itself - have improved the situation.

Nearly all interviewees felt that KWL was contributing to the Sustainable Communities agenda, both in terms of providing mixed-income and mixed-tenure new-build developments and in allowing keyworkers to access areas with high house prices and allowing them to serve their communities.

The early findings of this evaluation, which identified calls from some employers for an extension of KWL's eligibility criteria, led to the ODPM's decision to widen the range of front-line public sector workers who can apply for the programme. This change will come into effect in April 2006.

A number of interviewees, however, also argued that keyworker housing needs should ultimately be addressed through mainstream Housing Corporation provision, with eligibility criteria and other core aspects determined at a more local level.

- Adam Fineberg is an independent policy and regeneration consultant and Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) associate consultant. He devised the 'Growth Coalitions' project.

- Evaluation of Key Worker Living: Early Findings is available via

Contact us. Do you know of an evaluation report with important lessons for other regeneration professionals? If so, contact Shafik Meghji on

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