housing & housing services

6th Annual Digital Housing Forum

housing & housing services

08:45 - 16:00

Thursday 17 October 2019

Central London

Early Bird Discount Offer

10% off all advertised rates for a limited time only. Discount available to public / voluntary organisations only.


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 
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

Christine Whitehead, Emeritus Professor of Housing Economics, London School of Economics (LSE) (invited)


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: Implementing a Digitalisation Strategy to Transform the Housing Sector

  • Outlining how Homes England aims to become a digital pioneer, with digital innovation at the heart of everything it does through the October 2018 Five Year Strategic Plan
  • Effectively utilising new technologies to improve efficiency and better respond to the changing demands of the social housing sector
  • Introducing plans for a transformed suite of digital tools for customers and partners designed to revamp land and funding systems to increase impact and make them more efficient
  • Highlighting the importance of the housing sector embracing digitalization in order to develop a housing market fit for the 21st century

Brian McIntyre, Chief Digital and Technology Officer, Homes England (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


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)


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

  • Discussing how Rhonndda Housing Association developed an outstanding financial inclusion programme to benefit the estimated 73,000 people in the region believed to be digitally excluded
  • Examining the initiatives put in place by the association to benefit tenants, including ‘Tea, Talk and Teach’ roadshows, including activities such as family tree research and setting up social media
  • Highlighting how improving digital access for staff can have tangible benefits, for example how giving employees smartphones and tablets to work flexibly resulted in a reduction of half a tonne of carbon dioxides per quarter, 49% reduction in printing and two hours of time saved per staff member a day
  • Considering how digital inclusion improved the quality of life for residents, enabling them to live more independently and tackle loneliness and isolation

Luke Takeuchi, Chief Executive, Rhondaa Housing Association (invited)

Rhondaa Housing Association were the winners of the Outstanding Approach to Promoting Digital Inclusion Award, UK Housing Awards 2018


Case Study: Embracing Digital Technology to Provide More Efficient, Flexible Services for Tenants

  • Developing a self-service app to enable tenants access to their services in digital form
  • Outlining the success of the app, with two thirds of customers using it, 99.5% of rent balance enquiries being made digitally, 67% of anti-social behaviour reports being made online and 39% of repairs requests
  • Highlighting the impact this has had on streamlining services across the housing association with incoming customer calls being reduced by 71%
  • Expanding the app to introduce a variety of features designed to improve tenant engagement and experience including; reporting repairs, reporting incidences of anti-social behaviour and managing finances better
  • Discussing the impact the app has had in reducing costs, increasing efficiency and improving tenant care

Carole Galsworthy, Director of ICT, Business Improvement & Communications, Halton Housing (invited)


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 from the Doing Digital Inclusion: Social Housing Handbook, including 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, particularly between housing, local government and the voluntary sector, to support digitally excluded people to develop their digital skills and tackle isolation

Roz Davies, Director of Social Inclusion, The Good Things Foundation (invited)


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)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Using Digital Mapping to Improve Efficiency, Customer Service and Tenant Engagement

  • Outlining how using digital mapping can be used to improve internal processes and introduce new ways of working
  • Using GIS mapping to reduce under-occupancy, via a mobile survey map which helps staff to assess the needs of tenants and using GIS features to assess tenants under-occupying, identify void properties and match them to customers, speeding up the process and minimising conversion costs
  • Considering how GIS can contribute to decisions that optimise more value for money, such as loading and analysing data on garages into a map application to make strategic decisions about how to utilise garage sites
  • Discussing how streamlining services based on GIS can increase efficiency and reduce waiting times for customer complaints

Andrew Keljarrett, Business Development Manager, Bracknell Forest Homes (invited)


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

  • Introducing a new system, Healthwise, which requires staff to record their interactions with tenants to create a database that can act as an information bank for wellbeing staff
  • Outlining how recording tenant data can result in improved health and housing services for tenants, such as how recording consistent changing of locks due to loss of keys can be an indicator of dementia
  • Discussing how the software encourages partnership working between the housing association, acute and community settings
  • 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

Michelle Meldrum, Director of Operations, Gentoo Group (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*programme subject to change

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