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Three ways tech can tackle diverse social housing challenges

 Jeff Hewitt, Executive Director Housing & Communities at Civica explores three ways a digital housing platform can help housing providers adapt to the constant changes and demanding landscape they operate in.

It’s no secret that the social housing sector is facing huge pressure to offer affordable homes to customers amid constrained budgets, rapidly changing citizen expectations and increased security and compliance issues. So how can housing associations better connect employees and customers to deliver better outcomes for their communities?

Creating a single view to deliver better outcomes

Inconsistencies occur when data is not consolidated, which affects an organisation’s ability to make informed decisions. By creating a single view of critical data, social housing providers will gain a better understanding of people and their homes. For example, this single view, enabled by the cloud, supports customers and streamlines the customer experience by allowing providers to quickly understand factors such as the number of customers on housing waiting lists and the value of rent arrears owed

And it will help processes internally too. Having all data in one place, on a scalable platform using cloud software, allows social housing providers to understand the financial consequence of every decision to inform future customer actions. It also enables organisations to identify where spending inefficiencies occur in real-time, meaning internal processes can be streamlined and decisions can be driven by live data, on the ground, on the spot.

The UK is suffering a housing crisis and housing providers are continuing to grow the number of homes they offer to solve the issue. With the additional homes, it’s essential to have a single view of their housing assets and financial management. Using Civica’s cloud-based Cx housing and financial management software provides a real-time view on rent payments and arrears. This enables organisations to work smarter through automation and streamlining processes.

Keeping costs down by minimising compliance risks

In addition, predictive technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotic process automation can help organisations proactively spot potential problems before they occur, which reduces risk and supports the compliance of data and assets. Implementing cloud software will give organisations a complete view of how much each property costs to maintain, so they can effectively plan, manage and control assets’ repairs and maintenance budgets.

While many social housing providers might not yet think they’re in a position to implement these predictive technologies, there are financial solutions that many providers use today that offer live management information, and the ability to study costs and profitability based on real-time data. One social housing provider using this is Unitas, the housing repair and maintenance company of Stoke-on-Trent City Council. The firm recently integrated their repairs and maintenance solution with Civica’s financials cloud software to access real-time management information, streamline invoice management and quickly monitor and analyse both costs and profitability.

Driving a digital agenda

The rise in self-service in retail and banking has developed a consumer expectation of 24-hour contact and delivery, at any location, and a flexibility in the variety of channels that citizens can use to interact with organisations. And these expectations are spilling over into the housing sector. Residents want to be able to contact and speak to their social housing provider through the means and channels of their choice, and they expect instant responses. That’s why social housing providers need software that can help them deliver efficient, connected and responsive services to customers, enabling them to self-serve and speak at the time and through the channel of their choice.

Technology is helping to expand the line of communication across the board. For example, cloud software facilitates mobile working, as employees working for social housing organisations and local authorities can work within communities to securely share live information with residents and partners, while also supporting a paperless agenda. For example, Prospect Community Housing has improved communications and increased channel shift, with 35% of its customers switching to self-serve in the first three months, showing the need to move online to increase speed and ease.

Through access to a single view of data, and greater insights into where money and time is spent, housing providers can both overcome market challenges and deliver better outcomes for people and communities. 

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