Opinion: The magic internet
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing
Councils to merge IT departments in bid to save £2.2 million
By Steve Coffey, chief executive of Liverpool Mutual Homes
If landlords had a magic wand, the majority would want to wave it in tenants’ direction to address the same sort of issues.
Tackling fuel poverty, improving health, finding work and training, signposting to money advice and lower tariffs, assisting with welfare reforms and inspiring better lives.
All landlords offer these services to some degree.
And crucially, all could do this to far greater affect if a larger proportion of tenants were online.
As we all know, the benefits are enormous – for tenants and us as businesses.
Yet the number of people - significantly those in deprived areas - still unable to access the internet is incredibly high given the digital world we now take for granted; a message reinforced during this week’s national Get Online Week.
The digital divide is still too great.
We think nothing of accessing emails, surfing the net and uploading photos from our mobiles yet many tenants are unable to logon to a desktop PC.
They are excluded from the benefits either through price, lack of knowledge or confidence.
It is illogical for landlords not to invest significantly more to get customers online.
It is something we take very seriously at LMH because it’s also a crucial engagement tool.
We were the first landlord to create its own television station with lmh.tv and we continue to invest.
This week we launched an I.T. motorhome to travel around estates to introduce tenants to the internet, let them benefit from accessing the world’s knowledge and provide training.
Of course internet costs and computing equipment can price many tenants out of the market, which is why we’re piloting a free broadband scheme with a major supplier at our tenant and resident offices.
Welfare reforms and Universal Credit in particular is fast making the internet a necessity instead of a luxury.
We can’t resolve all these issues simply by saying ‘abracadabra’ but we have got a rabbit up our sleeve in the form of a clear focus and targeted investment.