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Circle Case study

How Isle of Wight Council supported local housing needs

Paycheck data helps reveal the true picture of local housing needs

Company background

The Isle of Wight Council is a unitary authority located on the Isle of Wight near the south coast of England. It is made up of 40 councillors from 39 wards. The Council is responsible for all local government activities on the Island.

The Isle of Wight is a beautiful, interesting and relaxing place to be. While the pace of life may be slower on the Island, the Isle of Wight Council is an innovative, forward thinking and dynamic organisation. The Council has an ambitious corporate plan with a vision for the Isle of Wight to be an inspiring place in which to grow up, work, live and visit.

Why the chose us

  • Danika Barber, Public Health and Strategic Analytics Lead explains:

We looked at what other councils had done to quantify affordability and knew that we needed to understand incomes across the Island in order to put house prices and rent costs in context of the local, permanent population.

  • Danika and her team recognised that they needed to account for the typically more expensive second homes and holiday rentals on the Island, as well as a ‘hidden homeless’ population such as extended and overcrowded households, those in unstable tenancies and those key workers in less well paid roles who are vital to the Island economy.

What they use it for

  • The work was commissioned by the Island Housing Conversation, a Regeneration Department project designed to inform and work with local councillors, housing providers and developers. The goal is to support stakeholders in building new homes of the right types and sizes in the right places to meet our local population’s needs.
  • Danika and her team used land registry square footage data to show how affordable the different sized properties are. It’s true that on the Island, unlike some other areas of the UK, more residents can afford to buy or rent a flat. But most can’t afford to buy a three-bedroom home to accommodate a family.
  • Looking at the overall UK picture, house prices appear cheaper on the Island. But salaries and incomes are much lower. Connecting house prices with real earnings at a granular level showed true affordability in each ward.

Benefits

  1. The interactive tool is really powerful, making the information and data meaningful and impactful.
  2. People understood the implications immediately. When we showed the interactive map for lower quartile income affordability, it raised a gasp from the audience. Residents in this group cannot afford to buy or rent anywhere. It’s vital that we address this, for the well-being of our population and the health of the local economy.
  3. The data insight was very well received at the meeting and afterwards. It was successful because of the combination of relevant, granular data and the visual presentation in PowerBI.
  4. Other departments asked Danika what PowerBI could do for them – they wanted to be able to visualise data in a similar way and understand local differences and needs in the Island population.
  5. Danika’s team has also been using PowerBI to present Covid-19 data and work is underway to develop a range of other similar dashboards for other business areas.

Developers have already asked us a lot of questions. We’re happy to be able to share insights that will help them propose the right mix of housing in their developments. It’s a win-win because they are more likely to get planning approval for schemes that meet clearly defined needs and bring the housing that local people need to the right parts of the Island.

Danika Barber, Public Health and Strategic Analytics Lead
Isle of Wight Council

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