Last night we reached a major milestone – we registered our thousandth member on the Digital Housing Hub. The rate of new members registering on the site is gathering apace, and I like to think it isn’t just because the new Digital Deal Challenge Fund opportunity is on the site. Digital inclusion has never been a hotter topic.
On Monday the roll out of Universal Credit (UC) reaches a major milestone with Wigan, Warrington, Tameside and Oldham becoming the first areas to start UC ‘for real’. At the back end of last year we saw a new group of people coming into UK online centres as they were being urged to do their job searching online using DWP’s Universal Jobmatch. People phoning up to start claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) are being told to go away and do it online, unless they can prove that they really really can’t do it online. And yesterday I was talking to housing providers who know that people affected by the “bedroom tax” who want to move will find it much easier to find a smaller property and apply for the move using online housing transfer tools. It’s never been more critical for social housing providers to prioritise their digital inclusion activity, and of course many of them are doing just that. I get great feedback daily that shows that the people working in the social housing sector who are on the hub find it is a useful place to ask each other questions and find useful resources to help them turn their priorities around digital inclusion into the practical next step.
I won’t go on for too long about how great the Digital Housing Hub is, but I will say that if you’re working in social housing and have any interest in digital inclusion, it’s worth taking a look to meet others who are in the same boat, share your expertise and ask any pressing questions. You can also find out more about the Digital Deal Challenge Fund while you’re there. Take a look here.