25th January 2024
Civica’s Mark Holdsworth looks ahead at the key social housing trends in 2024
Last year, I looked at the big themes across UK social housing. Now as we’re one month into 2024 how are these changes shaping up in the sector?
Residents at the heart
In July 2023, the Social Housing Act 2023 became law. This introduces new regulation of social landlords and brings into force the charter for social housing residents outlined in the Social Housing White Paper.
As the biggest change to social housing regulation for a decade is rolled out through 2024, social landlords now need to shift their culture and focus to be much more customer centric. This means not only putting systems in place to effectively deal with customer contacts, issues and complaints but also building a culture with the customer at its heart.
This means fostering more direct conversations with customers, setting up open communication channels which make it easier to gather and act on customer feedback and putting resident voice at the heart of all decision making. To support this, housing providers must also have effective systems in place to highlight problems fast and fix them, showing both their skills and commitment to meeting the expected standards.
Organisations are increasingly looking at how they can be more authentic when dealing with customers through their actions, behaviour and ‘way of being’; living the culture not by ‘what you say’ but by ‘what you do’.
Get into the data
Data and analytics are playing an increasingly important role, not just to support change but to prove it's happening and show where more focus is needed. Organisations need data built around their residents and homes, to have a single view across their operations. This allows them to identify and analyse problems and deliver effective solutions. Plus, they're making sure this data is accessible for tenants who want information about how their homes are managed.
Analytics are becoming more important in showing signs of tenants getting into financial trouble and offering support before this becomes a severe problem. With disrepair compensation claims on the rise, organisations need to record information to intervene early but also to defend against claims where appropriate. Social landlords also need the data to show their progression as they strive for the top inspection grades.
This change is all against a challenging financial landscape in social housing. The last quarterly sector survey reported aggregate cash interest cover for the year reducing to 74%, the lowest ever recorded. This is alongside increasing interest payments forecast to reach £4.4 billion over the next 12 months and increasing repair costs for damp and mould, building safety, energy efficiency and void repairs.
Against this backdrop, the only way forward is to deliver even more for less though operational efficiencies and more effectively identifying customer issues. This is where technology comes in. Deploying cloud housing systems which can manage by exception and automate routine responses will support efficient working through better automation. This will lead to more time for quality interactions with customers with more complex cases.
Mark Holdsworth is Director, Social Housing at Civica