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Housing Associations: Digitising to customer needs
“We are on a journey, and the way we deliver digital services is changing forever”. These were the words of Nick Atkin, CEO of Halton Housing Trust at one of two Digital First events hosted at the Imperial War Museum in September 2014. Words which encapsulated what the Halton Digital First event was all about: Digital inclusion and opening up the possibilities of technology to everybody.
The two events came in the wake of new legislation that meant citizens will only be able to apply for Universal Credit online. Universal Credit is the biggest change in the welfare system in a generation. It aims to simplify benefits by replacing what were six existing benefits into one single monthly payment. The move by the government – described by Nick Atkin as a ‘financial tsunami’ for housing associations – is a reflection of a digital revolution that risks leaving an unfortunate few behind. We now live in a world where smart devices and the internet are seen as a commodity rather than a luxury.
O2 have been in partnership with Halton Housing for some time now, with both organisations passionate about providing technology to the areas of society where it can make a real impact. With the rapid move to digital, Housing Associations need to take drastic action to protect their own incomes and more importantly support their vulnerable customers. Ensuring people have the right tools to be able to connect to the services they need regardless of age, income or disability has become a necessity, and O2’s tablet proposition has put the digital inclusion message right at its core. It’s why together we’re enabling Halton Housing to provide their residents with low cost tablets and 1GB per month data sims.
Access to the internet through a tablet will not only provide people with the ability to apply for Universal Credits, but enable them to access a whole range of essential digital services. 90% of jobs are now advertised solely on the internet, increasingly banks are offering internet only banking, and energy bills can be viewed and paid online at the click of a button. In fact independent research has shown that households with access to the internet can save up to £560 compared to those who don’t.
Both Halton Digital First events – each at full capacity with over 100 people in attendance – provided the perfect opportunity for housing associations across Britain to get hands on experience with the tech that could potentially revolutionise their business model.
Halton Housing Trust, with the help of O2, have already started on their digital journey, and the Halton Digital First event was their way of sharing that experience.