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Addressing Damp to Digital Transformation: The Business Case for Technology in Social Housing

In an era where technology is revolutionising every aspect of life, its potential to transform social housing is undeniable. This article explores the urgent need for digital transformation in the sector, starting with the pressing issue of black mould—a problem that not only poses health risks but also highlights wider systemic challenges. We advocate for a holistic approach that addresses the multifaceted challenges of social housing, demonstrating how local authorities and providers can enhance tenant quality of life and operational efficiency through a comprehensive business case and technology approach.

Addressing Damp to Digital Transformation: The Business Case for Technology in Social Housing
The Business Case for Technology in Social Housing
The Black Mould Challenge

In March 2024, the BBC reported that a major law firm is planning a major group legal action against social housing providers over lung conditions allegedly linked to black mould. The cases involve 13 housing associations based in the UK.

This follows the tragic case in Rochdale (England, UK) where a two-year-old baby died in inadequate social housing conditions. An inquest found the baby died “as a result of a severe respiratory condition caused due to prolonged exposure to mould in his home.” The NHS advises that mould can produce allergens, irritants, and toxic substances which can trigger asthma attacks and affect the immune system.

UK Government research estimates that 3-4% of social housing homes in England have at least some notable damp and mould, 1-2% have serious category 2 damp and mould problems, and less than 0.2% have the most serious, category 1 level, problems. Cases are more prevalent among local authority than private registered providers.

The Business Case for Damp and Mould is Clear

Given these stark statistics, it's perplexing that such issues persist despite the availability and proven efficacy of technology in preventing them. This underscores a gap in i) understanding of technology solutions, ii) the application of technology, and iii) the business case for deploying technology solutions which could dramatically reduce the prevalence of these conditions and the potential for law suits.

The business case for technology investment using IoT enabled sensors to reduce damp and mould is clear. Reducing maintenance costs by pre-empting issues like damp, mould, and water ingress—often due to poor heating, ventilation, leaks in windows or pipes can prevent costly damage and repair bills. To be truly transformational, however, the business case and technology approach for social housing must be more holistic.

The Multifaceted Challenges of Social Housing

Law suits, as result of damp and mould, are just one of many challenges that need to be overcome by social housing providers and budget constrained local authorities. These additional challenges include:

  • Improving digital inclusion among tenants ensuring they have affordable access to the internet enabling them to benefit from the digital economy by engaging and transacting with public services, seeking educational resources, seeking employment and to shop online.

  • Transitioning to digital channels for tenant interactions and services streamlining communication, improving engagement, and facilitating more efficient and cost-effective service delivery.

  • Minimising void periods thereby preventing loss of income, minimising wasted resources when demand for social housing is high.

  • Supporting the NHS by transferring care to the home as part of healthcare in the community initiatives to recover urgent and emergency care services reducing patient waiting times and unlocking bed capacity.

By taking on these challenges together, rather than separately, social housing providers could unlock significant transformative change. The challenges in social housing, which extend beyond damp and mould, necessitate a comprehensive technological strategy and more holistic approach to the business case for technology investment. This approach should encompass a wider scope, significantly elevating both the quality of life for their tenants and the operational efficiency of the housing sector itself.

A Multi-Dimensional Business Case to Benefit Tenants, Providers and Society

Social housing providers, health and social care leaders, local authority chiefs, and the health sector need to come together to develop a holistic, multidimensional digital strategy to tackle social housing issues collectively rather than in isolation. This way a unified technology framework that supports multiple solutions will be capable of delivering multiple outcomes with minimal investment in technology reducing the cost outlay thus improving the business case.

Intelligens Consulting has demonstrated that a holistic multi-dimensional business case using a combination of technologies underpinned by innovative commercial models can be integrated into a cohesive strategy to benefit i) tenants by improving living conditions and increasing digital inclusion, ii) social housing providers by transacting digitally, reducing maintenance costs and voids, and iii) society by implementing tele-healthcare initiatives reducing NHS waiting times.

We call upon local authorities, social housing providers health and social care professionals and the NHS to collaborate in adopting a multi-dimensional business case and implementing a holistic digital transformation strategy to benefit tenants, social housing providers and society at large.

About Intelligens Consulting

Intelligens Consulting is a multiple award-winning telecoms, smart city and digital transformation management consulting firm to investors, operators and public bodies.  Intelligens Consulting collaborates closely with social housing providers to enhance digital connectivity and local authorities to transform places into smart cities, driving innovation, efficiency, and sustainable growth.

Contact us on should you wish to discuss anything discussed in this article.

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