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Council websites fall short on social housing function

13/12/16

New Socitm survey reveals that metropolitan districts are not providing sufficient support to people looking for affordable housing through their web pages

Some councils are using their websites to distance themselves from responsibilities with social housing, according to public sector IT association Socitm.

Row of council housesIt has highlighted the issue, along with criticisms of councils’ overall performance in the area, in its latest Better Connected report.

The study – resulting from a survey of the websites of 36 metropolitan districts – points to exceptions to the discouraging trend, highlighting good work by Dudley and Kirklees Councils, and indicating that the best sites require people seeking to join a housing register to go through a pre-qualification assessment.

But it says the standout finding was that a number of councils often refer people to other organisation’s websites without providing any information on what part local authorities play in administering applications. Some people are aware of the role of housing associations, but many who are new to looking for affordable housing may not know.

Similarly, many sites were marked down for falling to include key information on their web pages, instead consigning them to PDFs. This can be a serious problem for people reliant on mobile devices or public access computers.

Explicit information

“We do not expect all information to be on web pages, and acknowledge that with housing there is a lot about details of eligibility and how to apply,” Socitm said. “But key information needs to be explicit on web pages.”

The metropolitan districts performed less well in key areas than the London boroughs that were surveyed on the task in March, with only 39% assessed to be providing a good or very service.

The question ‘Find out how to apply for housing is the first of the 12 service based surveys to take place during the 2016-17 Better Connected cycle.

Picture by Thomas Nugent, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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