North Ayrshire Council and three local housing providers have created an advanced common housing register, including mutual exchanges and a single set of criteria for assessing housing needs. Based on Abritas software, the new register went live in October 2012.
North Ayrshire Council, Cunninghame Housing Association, Irvine Housing Association and ANCHO originally set up Scotland’s first housing register and allocations policy in 2009 using a web-based Abritas system to streamline operations and improve partnership working. Before this, the four organisations each had their own allocation systems and maintained their own waiting lists. Applicants had to apply to each housing provider separately, which created confusion because each provider assessed applicants’ housing needs differently.
In 2012, the council and its housing partners decided to add extra functionality to streamline operations further and improve customer service. The council worked with Abritas to develop a Scottish version of the Housing Advice & Homelessness software for HL1 reporting, and they have also implemented the Abritas’s mutual exchange and enhanced housing options modules. The next phase is to develop a new temporary accommodation module which includes a rent deposit scheme.
All applicants’ housing needs are now assessed using the same criteria, which means they benefit from improved and more consistent advice. Tenants also find the process easier to understand and housing staff can provide a more complete picture of housing options within the region.
Bill McGhee, housing project manager, North Ayrshire Council, said, “It’s usually very difficult to measure the cost savings of common housing registers, but because we now have a register of all applicants that the partners share, there is no multiple handling of any individual applications so processing costs should be reduced. And although we haven’t been able to put a definite financial figure on the savings so far, as we move to greater self-service by applicants, costs should come down.”