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Housing associations rally internet providers to help more residents get online

Orbit is joining other housing associations, IT companies and other influencers to work together to help more social housing residents get online.

The Connected Housing Initiative was launched on September 19 at City Hall, London, to bring together 26 Housing Associations, 12 IT companies and 18 influential organisations.

This was, in part, a response to the Government’s Digital by Default Strategy which is already having a significant impact on ordinary households. There is an urgent need to ensure the most vulnerable people in the UK are not left behind, many of whom live in social housing.

The Connected Housing Initiative is a collaboration of 12 housing associations (providing accommodation to over 400,000 households), the Greater London Authority and digital skills provider Digital Unite. Together they have created a business case to highlight the current untapped market of 1.85m (1) social housing residents who are digitally excluded.

These housing associations alone estimate that over 110,000 of their own residents are unable to access the internet due to a lack of skills or accessible kit and connectivity. Over the past decade, they have ploughed over a million pounds into providing digital skills training to their residents and there are still many more people in need. However, as was highlighted at the event, even if people have the skills to go online many are still priced out of the market and this is having a serious impact on other social issues, including Universal Credit applications, unemployment and benefits sanctions, social isolation, poor health and financial exclusion.

The Deputy Mayor for Culture and Youth, Munira Mirza, said: "Our Smart London Plan is all about ensuring that new technologies can really help improve Londoners' lives. A large part of this has to be tackling the digital exclusion that some people experience. 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 associations to get more people online and we're pleased to work with them."

The Connected Housing Initiative has three goals: To ensure more affordable, sustainable and accessible IT kit and connectivity for all social housing residents. 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.

The event was attended by IT providers such as BT as well as Cabinet Office officials working on the Government’s Digital Strategy. The event has ensured that the Community Housing Initiative moves closer to achieving its goals as Helen Rowe is already set to meet with the Cabinet Office and the project will be meeting some of the power players in the IT world.

For further information please contact:

Helen Rowe, Chair of the Connected Housing Initiative, Viridian Housing – 0203 202 3613

Tim Dumbleton, Connected Housing Initiative member, Orbit Group – 01789 404 403