housing & housing services

6th Annual Digital Housing Forum

housing & housing services

08:45 - 16:20

Thursday 17 October 2019

Prospero House- etc Venues, Central London

This forum will provide participants with the opportunity to explore strategies for delivering and advancing digitalization and digital inclusion across the Housing Sector. Participants will hear from those at the forefront of housing policy on enhancing tenant’s digital inclusion and engagement and those embracing innovative technology to meet ever increasing digital demands. In addition, best practice case studies will demonstrate how to implement an effective digital channel shift, raise tenants digital skills and improve customer service.


The Forum is specifically designed for Housing Associations. Typical job titles will include:

  • Digital Services Managers
  • Digital Inclusion Officers
  • Heads of IT
  • Community Engagement and Involvement Officers
  • Directors of Transformation
  • Communications and Customer Relations Managers
  • Financial Inclusion Managers
  • Welfare and Benefits Programme Managers
  • Directors of Housing Services
  • Operations and Business Development Directors
  • Improvement Managers
  • Neighbourhood Managers
  • Partnership Managers

This Forum is also open to Local Authorities and the Private Sector to encourage networking and debate.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Rob Wray, Deputy CEO, Housing Asssociation Charitable Trust (HACT)
  • Emma Weston OBE, Chief Executive, Digital Unite 
  • Rich Denyer-Bewick, Operations Director, Citizens Online
  • Stephanie Noyce, Head of Financial and Digital, Clarion Futures
  • David Done, Chief Executive, Richmond Housing Partnership
View the agenda and additional speakers

Digitilisation within housing has been demonstrated to reduce costs whilst improving efficiency, resulting in better services and less staff hours.

Offline households are missing out on £560 per year due their lack of access to online services. A significant 5 million adults in the UK did not access the internet during 2018, whilst 4.3 million have no demonstrable digital skills, according to ONS statistics released in 2018, 37% of which are social housing tenants. This is despite the fact that 75%-90% of jobs require some computer use and 81% of older people over 55 feel less lonely when they are online.

In 2017, the government published the UK Digital Strategy, which aims to establish Britain as a world-leading economy by enhancing digital use across sectors. This placed emphasis on the role of the housing sector in enhancing housing developments and service delivery through embracing a digital channel shift. Additionally, the government has pledged that by 2020, they aim to ensure that 90% of the UK population are accessing the internet.

In June 2018, the Chartered Institute of Housing published their Going Digital: Gearing Up for the Future report, which analyzed the current state of digitalization across social housing. This report assessed the reasons for social landlords move towards embracing a digital shift, with 79% of those surveyed saying that efficiency through better use of resources was a driver for them. It also highlighted the importance of tenants’ confidence in using digital services as crucial for an effective digital shift to be achieved. Other factors, such as an organization’s culture, leadership and staff training were also identified as key to achieving successful digitalization.

This comes amid growing financial pressures on the housing sector, with requirements to accelerate the rate of house-building and improve the quality of homes, whilst operating under stricter financial restraints. It is therefore imperative that the housing sector is embracing the digital shift and able to deliver an effective whole system channel shift, which makes efficiency savings, improves the quality of services and meets tenants’ needs.


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair's Welcome Address

Professor Philip Brown, Chair of Social Change and Director, Sustainable Housing & Urban Studies Unit (SHUSU), University of Salford (CONFIRMED)


Morning Keynote: Transforming the Housing Sector Through Digital Technology

  • Discussing updates since the publication of the 2016 Digital Manifesto
  • Outlining the latest progress on overcoming the UK housing sector’s technological failures, including by placing more emphasis on service user needs
  • Piloting new technology for the sector as part of HACT’s Innovation Launch Pad
  • Working to adapt technology from other sectors for housing, and looking at how to further digitalise current housing services
  • Sharing the Digital Maturity Assessment as a method for benchmarking an organisation’s digital position and using this assessment as a springboard for improvement through action plans and roadmaps
  • Launching the new digital apprenticeship programmes uniquely created for the housing sector to help strengthen the digital talent pool in areas including IT infrastructure and digital marketing

Rob Wray, Deputy CEO, Housing Asssociation Charitable Trust (HACT) (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Sharing Guidance for Housing Associations to Achieve an Effective Channel Shift

  • Offering insights from detailed research in collaboration with housing professionals for implementing an effective digital transformation journey
  • Outlining four key hallmarks of successful channel shift, including mindset, planning, delivery and measurement and improvement, and discussing how to effectively implement and measure these
  • Highlighting the main obstacles housing associations faced in implementing successful channel shift projects and offering guidance on how to overcome these
  • Examining what constitutes accelerated channel shift, how housing associations can adopt guidance to realise channel shift targets faster and more efficiently, and how this can result in significant cost savings
  • Highlighting the importance of the housing sector embracing digitalization in order to develop a housing market fit for the 21st century

Pippa Adams, Chief Executive, Prodo (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Harnessing Innovative Technology to Provide More Efficient, Flexible Service

  • Examining Yarlington’s Next-Gen 2017-2021 strategy, which aims to digitalise all services across the organisation, and sharing progress in this so far
  • Increasing efficiency for 23,000 customers across more than 10,000 properties
  • Launching My Yarlington, an online customer portal which provides 24/7 access for customers to all services and highlighting the importance of round the clock access for customers with diverse needs
  • Discussing how this has resulted in reduced costs, higher efficiency and improved customer care which focuses on tenants’ needs
  • Outlining a range of digital inclusion initiatives put in place by the housing association, including digital workshops and a loan IT services, and how this has improved quality of life for tenants

Andy Skarzynski, Executive Director of People, Information and Culture, Yarlington Housing Group and Executive Director of Strategy, Business Information and HR, Yarlington Housing Group and Radian Homes (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Implementing an Effective Channel Shift which Resulted in Outstanding Digital Inclusion

  • Developing an impressive digital transformation project, including launching an innovative customer app, which was entirely in-house and shortlisted for the Housing Heroes Awards
  • Discussing the importance of aligning IT strategy to Business Strategy and how to achieve this through the Gartner model, which aligns the two strategies through five levels
  • Sharing guidance on promoting good understanding of customers, including their needs and inclusion, and how to effectively meet these through a customer access strategy which improves customer services and drives digital improvement
  • Outlining how improved digitalisation has directly correlated with increased digital inclusion for tenants and how both digital inclusion and organisation-wide digitalisation must be the focus of a housing association’s digitisation strategy to achieve success

Kathryn Downs, Director of Technology and Transformation, Midland Heart (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Implementing an Outstanding Digital Transformation Programme

  • Sharing an insight into Richmond Housing Partnership’s digital transformation programme, including the UK’s first fully digital housing management system, and what was needed to get 72% of all customer interactions online
  • Discussing how this has reduced costs, improved customer service and provided tenants with 24/7 access to easily accessible digital services, enabling them to access customer support at any time via web chat and social media
  • Examining RHP’s Power BI interactive interface, which enables employees to access a more visual illustration of information
  • Highlighting the efficiency savings RHP have made through digitalization, including lowering the cost per unit to £3400, compared to the London average of £5478, and how these were made whilst maintaining customer satisfaction levels of 85%
  • Sharing lessons learnt through the process, including that the e-communities portal didn’t work as well as other services and the importance of high quality people and data to success

David Done, Chief Executive, Richmond Housing Partnership (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Promoting Digital Inclusion to Tackle Social Isolation in Housing

  • Outlining the current state of digital exclusion in the UK, with more than 50% of those who have never or rarely used the internet over 75 and 56% of non-internet users being disabled
  • Highlighting how people with basic digital skills are more likely to earn more, secure employment, benefit from lower retail prices online and communicate more with family and friends
  • Sharing guidance on promoting digital inclusion in housing, such as engaging tenants more by trialling alternative forms of marketing digital inclusion sessions
  • Discussing how to ensure that digital engagement methods are able to meet the variable needs of tenants, such as using different formats for engagement, including informal drop in sessions or support in tenants’ homes
  • Outlining the importance of working across sectors through the ‘Switch’ approach, particularly between housing, local government and the voluntary sector, to support digitally excluded people to develop their digital skills and tackle isolation

Rich Denyer-Bewick, Operations Director, Citizens Online (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Sharing Innovative Tools for Embedding Digital Participation in Housing

  • Considering how the digital skills landscape and the way people learn digital skills has changed and is changing still
  • Examining the Digital Champion programme, which trains staff, residents and volunteers to develop their digital skills to deliver digital inclusion and enhance digital participation
  • Outlining how digital participation results in users having increased confidence, better understanding of digital technology and increased motivation to use digital technologies
  • Gaining an insight into the One Digital programme, delivered in partnership with Age UK, Clarion Futures and Citizens Online, to get more digitally isolated people online

Emma Weston OBE, Chief Executive, Digital Unite (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Delivering an Outstanding Digital Programme to Meet the Needs of Tenants

  • Sharing findings so far from Clarion Futures’ participation in the One Digital programme, a collaborative digital inclusion programme developed in partnership with Age UK, Citizens Online, Digital Unite and the SCVO
  • Gaining an insight into Clarion’s extensive digital inclusion programme, including in-home training, volunteer Digital Champions, digital community grants and a dedicated centre offering digital workshops and courses
  • Developing a screening tool which helps housing organisations to identify and support tenants who may need assistance to develop their digital skills, allowing personalised learning plans to be created for individuals
  • Working in partnership with 15 other housing associations to extend the programme and embed effective Digital Champions models of support

Stephanie Noyce, Head of Financial and Digital, Clarion Futures (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Utilising Innovative Technology to Improve Efficiency, Customer Service and Tenant Engagement

Justin Crittall, Head of Repairs and Innovation, Vivid Homes (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Utilising Technology to Deliver Integrated Health Initiatives and Meet Tenants’ Needs

  • Sharing results from a trial which piloted smart home technology to enable elderly tenants to feel safe at home
  • Discussing how the software encourages partnership working between the housing association, acute and community settings
  • Outlining how surveying tenant data can result in improved health and housing services for tenants, such as how recording that a person gets up a lot in the night can act as a warning sign for health professionals as an indicator of health deterioration
  • Highlighting how making the data accessible to all who come into contact with a tenant can make repetitive visits avoidable
  • Considering how utilizing innovative technology can increase the quality of services for tenants, providing a more streamlined and person centered service

Jonathan Drake, Service Director, Salix Homes (CONFIRMED)

The MiiHome Project was shortlisted for the Innovative Landlord of the Year Category at the UK Housing Awards 2019


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*programme subject to change

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