By Chris Proctor, Chief Executive, Oneserve
The message couldn’t have been clearer: the fundamental role of social landlords is to provide safe, well-maintained homes and to build new social homes for those in need.
This warning shot was delivered by Bernadette Conroy, Chair of the Regulator of Social Housing, at last week’s Social Housing Annual Conference.
As the sector gears up to a new regulatory regime, it’s crucial to highlight how critical good data management is in achieving the Regulator’s objectives. In fact, both the Regulator and Housing Ombudsman, have on several occasions this year focussed on the importance of good data for service delivery.
A report by the Regulator in June, shed light on the lessons learned by housing providers regarding damp and mould, saying that better-performing landlords excel in data management. These landlords had accurate and up-to-date information about tenants’ homes, leveraging it proactively to identify and resolve damp and mould problems.
Of course, recent tragedies in social housing are painful reminders of the consequences when providers fall short of their responsibilities. Often, this shortfall is not due to a lack of intent but rather stems from poor data quality. Inaccurate, incomplete, inconsistent or unstructured data, compounded by outdated systems, can lead to erroneous decision-making or inaction, and we know only too well the devastating consequences these can have.
In the evolving landscape of UK social housing, marked by increasing regulatory demands and the need for greater accountability, the significance of robust data management cannot be overstated. Good data is mission-critical for the Regulator’s objectives.
As we look to the future, the role of data management in social housing will be more important than ever. The regulatory changes of 2024, including the Tenant Satisfaction Measures, will require social landlords to collect more detailed data which will have to be submitted to the Regulator for scrutiny.
At Oneserve, we have been working with social housing providers to ensure their repairs and maintenance data will be robust enough for the rigours and examination of the new regulatory regime. We’ve also been finding data solutions to the practical issues facing the sector – listen to our podcast with Hillingdon Council’s Liam Bentley talking about how they are tackling damp and mould by using data to help identify patterns. And we’ve recently surveyed more than 500 UK social housing tenants to gain an understanding, not just of their expectations as tenants, but also as customers of leading companies outside of the social housing sector, such as Amazon. The results are eye-opening and can be used to provide valuable insight ahead of Consumer Standards coming into effect from April 2024.
Data will be a pivotal element in ensuring that the Regulator’s objectives are met in 2024 and beyond. For the sector, this means a commitment to adopting and investing in data management systems that will drive better decision-making, enhance tenant safety and ensure compliance with evolving regulatory demands.
The path forward for social housing providers is clear: embracing and investing in quality data management is not optional – it’s essential.
At Oneserve we know how effective data and information management is critical to improving services and satisfaction for tenants. The social housing providers we work with understand the impact of adopting a more sophisticated approach, ensuring data synchronisation, appropriate staff training and using comprehensive data for an accurate overview. We continue to work with the sector to help providers make informed decisions based on accurate, real-time data to prevent the human and organisational impacts of poor data management.