Berneslai Homes, the ALMO managing Barnsley Council’s 20,000 properties, has integrated C3’s call handling system with its Northgate housing management system as part of its ‘Homeseeker’ choice-based letting programme. The latest guidelines from the Government stipulate that all local authorities must have appropriate CBL systems in place by the end of 2010.
The council advertises its vacant properties weekly on its website, in the Barnsley Chronicle and in all nine Barnsley Connects Service Centres. Prospective tenants are invited to apply for up to three properties per week via the web site, by phone or by visiting one of the Barnsley Connects centres.
C3’s communications technology is used to automate the phone application option. It integrates with Berneslai Homes’ housing management system, allowing tenants applying for an advertised home by phone to be told immediately whether or not they are eligible under Barnsley Council’s lettings policy.
Prospective tenants call an advertised number, answer a simple set of questions and provide key information, such as their date of birth, their housing reference number and the property reference number, using the buttons on their phone. C3’s call handling system passes this information to the housing management system for verification, and applicants are then advised whether their application has been accepted before the end of the call. All accepted applications are analysed by Berneslai Homes and properties are then allocated based on a banded priority system. Successful applicants are contacted by telephone, by mail or via a nominated representative, depending on their individual preferences.
The system has been very popular since its launch in early 2008, with now almost of half of all applications made by phone. Bob Cartwright, lettings manager, Berneslai Homes, said, “The project has been a great success with our customers. At the beginning, they reported issues with the volume and speed of the automated messages, but C3’s support team helped us to sort things out very quickly.”
Nottingham City Council, Greenwich Council and Scottish Borders Council also have similar CBL systems from C3.