More and more frequently people are turning to online to engage with public services. Housing associations in particular are finding that digital delivery can help improve engagement with tenants, offering a better sense of customer service and ways to save money Access is crucial to enabling this improved engagement, and it’s something that’s felt all the more important through recent lockdowns.

Ed Povall at Daisy Communications explores this further.

The need to keep tenants connected to the outside world has never been more pressing. A recent report found that of those likely to be digitally excluded, 37% are social housing residents.[1] The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the demands within the industry to drive digital inclusion in a number of different ways.

Stop Social Isolation: with the country in lockdown and many tenants still shielding in their homes, it can be easy for isolation to seem overwhelming. In fact, half a million older people regularly experience extended periods of isolation, not seeing or speaking to anyone else for at least five or six days at a time.[2] Staying connected enables tenants to alleviate isolation by staying in contact with their loved ones, pursuing hobbies, and staying in touch with the outside world while they keep staying safe at home.

Stay Connected to Services: whether it’s household bills or Universal Credit, online is quickly becoming the default way to pay bills and to submit forms. With non-essential stores closed, online is also becoming a popular way to shop. More than three quarters of people in the UK use the internet for some of their grocery shopping.[3] Without access to the internet, your tenants are estimated to be missing out on savings of £560 per year when they don’t shop or pay bills online.[4]

Training and Employment: more than 82% of middle-skill jobs require digital skills – that’s a 4% increase in three years.[5] Comparatively, 11.9 million people (22% of the country’s population)[6] do not have the digital skills that are needed for everyday life in the UK. For a lot of jobs internet access is a requirement in order to work, and while schools are closed the internet is needed for students to access remote learning.

It’s for these reasons and due to these industry demands that solutions like cellular data, fixed broadband, and tablets and smartphones have become so important. When asked, 80% of people said that technology has been a vital support for them during the pandemic.[7] Ensuring your tenants stay connected can be crucial to improving not just engagement, but your tenants’ livelihoods and wellbeing too.

[1] Figures published by the Housing Association’s Charitable Trust, 2020
[2] Campaign to End Loneliness, 2020
[3] Waitrose and Partners’ Food and Drink Report, 2020
[4] Figures published on the National Housing Federation website, 2015
[5] Figures published by Burning Glass Technologies from their ‘Digital Edge: Middle-Skill Workers and Careers’ report, 2017
[6] UK Consumer Digital Index from Lloyds Bank, 2019
[7] Figures published by the Housing Association’s Charitable Trust, 2020

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