The primary purpose of this toolkit is to help RSLs share knowledge on the challenges and successes of digital inclusion projects among GWSF members. It also aims to assist Digital Scotland and Digital Glasgow achieve their objectives to encourage a key unconnected group (social housing tenants) to get online.
Not being able to access the internet is a significant modern form of social and economic exclusion. Community Controlled HAs have a track record of successful community regeneration of our communities through not only housing regeneration, but also through a range of non housing (wider role) activities. Many have the local facilities which can help deliver digital inclusion workshops and training. By helping our tenants get online we can, for example: help them apply for and get a job, apply for benefits and access other public services, help with education, maintain contact with family and friends and save money through online transactions.
Digital inclusion for housing associations however, shouldn’t just be about tackling social and economic exclusion. It also needs to consider our primary activity of being a landlord delivering housing services.
It wouldn’t make sense for housing associations to spend time and resources on digital inclusion projects to encourage their tenants to be able to benefit from using online services and continue to deliver all their own services offline, in traditional ways.
Research has shown that people who use public services most are social housing tenants. More and more public services (such as Universal Credit) are being delivered online.
Many housing associations are now making this “channel shift” by moving more of their services online. This is often driven by the need to achieve greater efficiencies. A further key driver for this change is in recognition of DWP’s aim for 80% of Universal Credit claims to be made online. The UK Government’s Digital Efficiency Report suggested that transactions online can already be 20 times cheaper than by phone, 30 times cheaper than postal and as much as 50 times cheaper than face-to-face.
If housing associations begin to shift more of their services online, and support their tenants in using those online services, then this will further assist both Digital Scotland and Digital Glasgow with achieving their objectives of getting as many social housing tenants (one of their key “unconnected groups”) as possible to go online.
2 case studies in “Channel Shift” are presented:
- Thenue Housing Association
- ELHA.com (East Lothian Housing Association)