From: Declan Grogan, Managing director, NDL
Sir – I read with interest your article ‘Are you ready for Universal Credit?’ in the March edition of Housing Technology. It was heartening to hear Thurle Phillips from Paragon Community Housing Group acknowledge the importance of mobile working in helping to ease the administrative and logistical burden universal credit will place on social housing providers.
I would urge other housing associations to follow suit, but as well as arming employees with tablets and smartphones, due consideration should also be given to integration. As mobile working and integration software specialists we have worked with hundreds of public sector organisations, and experience has taught us that integration can easily be forgotten in the excitement of shiny new devices, but it is vitally important in order to gain the most out of this investment.
Ensuring mobile devices are properly integrated with an organisation’s own back-office system is an important first step, but the real Holy Grail is to be able to integrate systems across organisations. As a recent report by the Communities and Local Government Committee made clear, universal credit fraud (caused largely by a lack of integration) is a real fear. The committee’s chairman noted that the current state of the project’s fraud detection system, which is unable to detect when multiple individuals make a housing benefit claim on a single property, was “extremely concerning given the advanced state of implementation”
Of course, this particular integration problem isn’t for housing providers to solve alone, but it is another indication of just how important it is for the ability to integrate to be built, front and centre, into any IT system.