Digital communications offer social landlords a brighter outlook

As social landlords look ahead to 2021 the challenge of fire safety remediation works and keeping residents safe and informed continues to loom large.

Research conducted for BECG by Inside Housing magazine has revealed that 82 per cent of social landlords have fire safety surveying and remediation works in their top three organisational risks, and nearly 30 per cent rank it as number one.

As the owners of a significant proportion of the UK’s tall and multi-occupancy buildings it’s clear that housing associations, local authorities (LAs) and ALMOs will continue to have to devote time and money to making buildings safe. At the sharp end of this are the residents in those homes where lives are disrupted by remedial works or a move to temporary accommodation, as the residents of the Paragon complex in Brentford found out last month.

This issue on top of Covid-19 and a worsening economic outlook that will impact rental receipts and resident well-being, will keep the C-suites of our HAs busy over the coming months.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. As in many other parts of society and the economy the Covid-19 pandemic has also accelerated change in the social housing sector. With the traditional face-to-face, drop-in, and resident meetings ruled out the sector has accelerated its move to digital methods of communication and customer service.

The BECG/IH survey showed that 78 percent of social landlords are either looking to introduce a resident communications portal in the next 12 months or have already done so in the past year. A third said that the impact of Covid-19 had accelerated their digital transformation plans.

This is exciting stuff, and the good news is that this leap forward into digital can bring long term cost savings while improving the experience of residents and making the resident voice clearer and more influential.

BECG’s own experience in this area is through our Built To Engage digital solution, which includes digital platforms for landlords needing to deliver complex communications about disruptive work, particularly fire safety remediation.

The benefits are significant. For landlords it provides a Covid-secure method to engage residents with tailored communications, and saves costs compared to alternatives such as direct mail. For residents it provides a channel for dialogue and provides information in the way they are used to; instantly, digitally and directly to their device.

As the winter gloom passes into spring next year let’s be optimistic that this digital acceleration can provide a silver lining for residents and social landlords alike.

For more information on Built To Engage for resident communications please contact Julius Duncan.

Download the survey results here