Social housing sector lags behind in digital engagement, report finds

More than three quarters (86%) of housing providers thought that the social housing sector lags behind other industries in terms of digital engagement according to a report published by Scotland’s Housing Network.

The network carried out research to provide insight into the current perceptions of digital engagement across the housing sector in Scotland and to understand the current and future scope of providers digital initiatives.

The research included an online survey to social housing providers and a workshop with housing professionals from across the social housing sector in Scotland.

The responses received indicated that digital services are clearly seen as a priority for housing providers with 85% of respondents confirming that their organisation has a digital strategy or are developing one. However, there is perhaps a real lack of knowledge about customers digital capability which leads to a tendency to fill in the gaps in this knowledge and make assumptions about customers and what they are capable of.

The report highlights that the housing sector is starting on the journey to digital transformation from a position of strength. Housing providers have developed multiple platforms to communicate and engage with their customers however the sector needs to build upon and grow alternative and digital methods of communication. The full report is available on the SHN Members website.

The report makes four key recommendations:

  1. Understanding the needs and priorities of your customers
  2. Designing services in partnership with your staff and your customers
  3. Digital inclusion in housing is crucial
  4. Consider the benefits of shared services

Andrea Finkel-Gates, chief executive officer for Scotland’s Housing Network, said: “These findings point to a digital maturity spectrum within the sector, with a small number of housing providers regarding themselves as ahead of others in the sector, but with the majority considering themselves behind the curve.”

“There is no one size fits all approach to the development of digital services but in order to develop truly inclusive digital services these must be developed in partnership with tenants to meet their needs.”

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