Getting social housing residents online – why it’s important

Last Thursday I had the chance to speak at the Housing Technology Conference about the benefits of getting social housing tenants online (slides, as always, are available here – and you can also watch a video of the event here). It made me realise that I haven’t yet blogged about the work we do with social housing providers, and the huge digital gulf that exists for those living in social housing. Did you know that half of everyone who is offline lives in social housing?  It’s a pretty big number – and understandably these people could probably benefit the most from the money saving benefits, not to mention the social ones, that being online could bring.  

And there’s an incentive for housing organisation to get their tenants online too. I’ve talked before about being ‘digital by default’, and how moving services online can save the government money – and it’s not just the government who can save. If social housing providers can get their tenants online, they can start delivering better and more targeted services, which are often a lot more cost effective too. 

We’re making progress working with housing providers, and they’re making the right noises – 36% plan to write a digital strategy and 17% have a digital strategy already which has full organisational commitment (a pat on the back to them!). However, 16% do not have a digital strategy, although they’d like one, and 4% have no strategy, and no plans to put one in place. Which makes me think that some of these organisations might need a bit of a hand getting started. So of course we’re ready to lend one!

We’re inviting all those with a stake in getting people living in social housing online to join our Digital Housing Hub. It’s a neutral venue, so we won’t be bombarding you with messages about how good we are at getting people online (although we are!). It’s a place to share ideas and best practice, bounce ideas off others who have already done what you’re thinking of, and somewhere to network and meet others who are in the same boat. So whether you’re a social housing provider, a policy maker or you help people to get online yourself, do sign up. And once you have, don’t forget to shout up and tell us your ideas, because it’s by working together that we’ll make the most impact. 

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