Places for People and Service Birmingham have signed contracts with Northgate Information Solutions for the delivery of mobile technology for their staff and maintenance workers.
With a total order value of £1.2 million, Northgate’s mobile service is expected to speed up the delivery of personalised services for tenants and citizens and support flexible working such as home working. The service will also reduce costs and carbon emissions by significantly reducing maintenance workers’ trips to and from the offices and depots.
At Places for People, around 1000 housing officers across the country will be able to log maintenance requests on the spot, answer tenants’ queries immediately and help them complete application forms and payment schedules in their own homes. Tony Hayes, head of information management and technology, Places for People, said, “We focus on creating places where people choose to live, whether that means creating new communities or transforming existing neighbourhoods. We can now deliver improvements to our services quickly, right at the point of need, through empowering our staff to take action in their communities.”
The primary users of the mobile service at Service Birmingham, the strategic partnership between Birmingham City Council and Capita, will be the housing department who will be focusing on, among other areas, services for the most vulnerable communities. Roger Preece, director of ICT, Service Birmingham, said, “We are committed to providing residents with public services tailored to their needs, that they only have to ask for once, and that are delivered in ways that they prefer.”
Northgate has also responded to the Scottish government’s housing review, ‘Firm foundations – the future for housing in Scotland’, suggesting that the government should improve housing opportunities for low-income tenants and homeless people by tackling the barriers to the private rented sector created by the benefits system.
According to Northgate, local authorities should be given a strategic role in promoting wider access to quality housing in the private rented sector, ensuring that citizens take up and receive prompt payment of the benefits to which they are entitled, and consider the use of discretionary benefit payments to tackle the problem of rent shortfall.
Joe Bradley, managing director of local government and social housing, Northgate Public Services, said, “A mixed economy makes sense but not if the most vulnerable members of our community have to pay too high a price. To solve the current housing shortage in Scotland, we must provide wider opportunities to access higher quality housing both in the social housing and private rented sectors.”