Housing repairs online

This discovery aimed to define a common service pattern for housing repairs and understand barriers to adoption of digital repairs services. The project also explored which service elements are best suited to self-serve, how best to use technology to improve the service and how a service pattern can be mapped to the Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust (HACT) repairs data standard.

There are 1.6 million socially rented properties in England. Councils are responsible for providing repairs to those properties. For most organisations, this is a high volume service which generates large numbers of phone calls to the council.  Digitising the housing repairs reporting service could provide tangible savings from channel shift, however, even where online channels exist take up with users tends to be relatively low.

The project aimed to produce a reusable kit to accelerate the development of digital repairs services across the public sector.

Project outputs

All Local Digital Fund Discovery projects were asked to provide the following information at completion:

  • User research report
  • Benefits case
  • Recommendations for next steps

In April 2019, the project team submitted the following documents:

If you cannot access these documents, please contact the Local Digital team to receive them in an alternative format.

Feedback

Each project was assessed using these lenses by the Local Digital Collaboration Unit. We have provided feedback directly to the project teams and this is a summary of what we shared with them.

It aims to be constructive for both the project team and any other organisation wishing to learn about the project or make use of the work done.

  • The project team undertook a number of different user research methodologies (interviews, call monitoring and online surveys) and produced 8 personas. Consolidating these personas further would make them more useful for the wider local authority sector and provide better evidence for the recommendations made. The team should also add motivations, behaviours and digital literacy information where it has been missed out.
  • The project carried out best practice research, external consultation and website analysis to understand how housing repairs services are being delivered by other organisations. Providing more information on how this research was carried out and standards against which websites were assessed would increase the robustness of this analysis.
  • The project researched pain points faced by users and the back office staff in service delivery. Joint analysis of these user groups and key stakeholders (for example contractors and contact centre staff) could provide a better overview of shared pain points, reasons for them, and opportunities to improve.
  • The project considered various options to take forward and recommended exploration of ‘leaks’ in an Alpha. Additional data on the most common repair types could provide greater confidence that this repair type will generate the biggest benefits and have lasting impact on users and members of staff.
  • The project team produced detailed gross benefits data, which shows in depth consideration of how efficiency benefits in the process could be quantified. In a future phase, costs for developing and running an MVP solution should be included as part of the financial and economic assessment together with details of any anticipated benefits.
  • The team produced a benefits calculator tool which is now available for reuse by other organisations. It is a good way to allow others to test the potential benefits that this project could bring to housing repairs services.

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