Housing Data Interventions

Blog: A turning point for social housing management?

19 October 2023 - Linda O'Halloran and Amy Bellamy

It's pretty well established to those in the industry that social housing services are struggling to keep up with the growing pressure on social housing. The technology they rely on does not help. 

Earlier in 2023, members of this coalition carried out work to understand the problem of ‘vendor lock-in’ in housing services. Housing services feel that they are unable to change from their ‘legacy’ housing technology to newer systems that would better meet their needs. We sought to understand why local authorities and housing associations alike buy and renew technology that doesn’t meet their needs. Not only are these technology issues frustrating for those managing and working in housing services, they can lead to serious service failures that mean unsafe homes go unmended and people and tax payers ultimately get poor value.

Likewise, we found that suppliers of this technology were similarly frustrated. When calls to tender require bespoke integrations and very specific features, they are limited in their ability to update their products and showcase innovative new features. You can see the full report from the last phase of work here

Based on these findings, with much help from DLUHC’s Local Digital team, and the local authorities that commissioned the discovery work, we’re now working on two projects that hope to: 

We’re mid way through research in both areas, speaking to people in Local Authorities and Housing Associations who work in housing services, digital and data teams, or procurement teams. 

On the data side, we’ve heard about challenges with:

To hear more, watch our latest show and tell here

We are still synthesising what we’ve heard and will build on this over the next few weeks. Next we want to dig into exactly where these issues are happening and identify any common failure points that affect lots of organisations, where some level of intervention could have the most benefit. 

At this stage, we are open to many different types of intervention - or none at all, if existing initiatives meet the needs we identify. 

What we mean by standards Our working definition of ‘standard’ in this pre-discovery is “A rule or principle that is used to benchmark a level of quality in a service, process, dataset or system”. What might be the examples of this?  Data Model or Schema. An abstract model of the data entities used in a system or service and how they relate to each other. Examples: Open Referrals, Standard in Planning Data, Council Tax Support Updates, SAVVI, HACT, Open EHR. Register or Taxonomy. A list or classification system used to define common entities in services, such as assets, needs, service types. Examples: UPRN, LGA Local Government Business Model, GDS Registers, Brownfield land registers. Service Quality Standard. Requirements or principles that should be met by a service to be fit for purpose. Examples: Local Digital Declaration. API Specification. A standard way for systems to talk to one another, share data and enable common functions. Examples: Supporting Families programme, Council Tax Support Updates. Export Format or Reporting Standard. A structured model for a data set exported from a system or used in reporting on performance. Examples: Local Government Open Data Incentive Scheme, H-clic. Pattern or Process. Processes or reusable solutions for common journeys or problems deployed as part of a service. Examples: HACT.

Depending on what we find are the most pressing issues, we may find a need for a new:

And that is just the form of the intervention - we will also be thinking about principles and tactics to promote adoption. There are already optional data standards and guidance - what will make this different? What more is needed? We will be learning from the research into past precedents in the intervention playbook project to shape these data interventions and building on this through our research throughout November. 

Come along to our next show and tell on Thursday 9 November to find out more!

Do you want to contribute? The window is still open to sign up to be part of our research - just fill in this form and we’ll book in time with you!

There will also be a show and tell for the Procurement work on Thursday 2 November.  Sign up through the form to be added to the invitations for both show and tells.