A group of 12 housing providers (representing 400,000 households), the Greater London Authority and Digital Unite are collaborating to combat digital exclusion. The Connected Housing Initiative aims to highlight the 1.8 million social housing residents who are digitally excluded.
The 12 housing providers estimate that over 110,000 of their own tenants are unable to access the internet due to a lack of skills or accessible kit and connectivity. Over the past decade they have spent over a million pounds on providing digital training for their tenants, but even if tenants have the skills to go online, many are still priced out of the market.
Connected Housing Initiative’s goal is to ensure more affordable, sustainable and accessible IT kit and connectivity for all tenants. The group is offering 25 years of expertise and experience to help emerging and existing IT companies access this market and work with them so everyone living in social housing can access the internet wherever they live, whatever their income.
Munira Mirza, deputy mayor for culture and youth, Greater London Authority, said, “Our Smart London Plan is all about ensuring that new technologies can really help improve Londoners’ lives. We want all Londoners to have the confidence and know-how to get online and benefit from all the incredible opportunities that the internet has to offer. Campaigns like the Connected Housing Initiative bring together internet providers with housing providers to get more people online.”
Helen Rowe, chair of the Connected Housing Initiative at Viridian Housing, said, “Many housing providers are investing heavily in supporting their tenants to learn how to use the internet, but we simply can’t provide internet access to 1.8 million people. We want our residents to have genuine choice in the market.
“For IT companies wanting to offer affordable kit and connectivity to social housing residents, we can be their route into this market and we are offering our support and expertise to any companies who would like it.”
The housing providers involved in the initiative are: Affinity Sutton, AmicusHorizon, Family Mosaic, Hanover Housing Association, L&Q, North Hertfordshire Homes, Orbit Group, Peabody, Southern Housing Group, Sovereign Housing Association, The Hyde Group, and Viridian Housing.
According to members of the Connected Housing Initiative, 40 per cent of housing providers plan to negotiate affordable internet connectivity deals in the next year to support their residents, and over 80 per cent plan to deliver communal premises with internet connections and computers in the next year.