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Social housing sector prioritises resident welfare at Switchee Summit

The recent inaugural Switchee Summit, titled ‘Shaping the Future of European Housing’, brought together over 160 delegates to address how, through innovation and data analysis, the industry can improve resident welfare.
CEO Fireside Chat

The one-day Summit, held at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, hosted over 80 housing providers, academic groups and other related businesses from across the social housing sector.

Heavyweight industry challenges that have a direct impact on resident health and wellbeing were covered in a series of thought-provoking presentations, case studies, CEO Fireside discussions and creative breakout sessions. Current challenges like resident communication, fuel poverty, damp and mould and the journey to Net Zero were covered in detail. Speakers also pushed attendees to be forward-thinking about the potential of sharing best practices and exploring new approaches and innovations.

CEOs from Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, National Energy Action (NEA), Hopestead (Flagship Group), Livv Housing Group, Soha Housing and whg Housing Association openly shared the big challenges they are facing and how they are tackling them. Each case involved a change in approach from focusing on the asset to focusing on the individual.

A common thread from the Summit was that gathering and analysing quality data is the starting point to understanding the root cause of the problems that residents are facing. Helen Langley, Senior Agency Support & Development Officer, from Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, an early adoptee of Switchee, spoke about how, from the Switchee dashboard, they were able to identify their most vulnerable residents at risk of fuel poverty and communicate directly with them via their Switchee devices to offer support, obtaining an up-to 93% response rate. Helen also shared the results of a successful pre-winter boiler testing campaign and a retrofit validation analysis project to understand their properties’ performance pre-and post-retrofit, all via the Switchee device.

Tom Robins, CEO of Switchee said: “The Summit was an exciting meeting of minds from across the industry. There was a clear buzz and common focus throughout the day; housing providers care about their residents and want to help improve their lives. The mindset of everyone in the room was about taking ownership of their residents’ problems and delivering tangible solutions.”

The consensus is that it is no longer acceptable to not know what residents are experiencing. Housing providers that spoke at the Summit are making positive changes that have already provided better outcomes for residents. In each case, the solution has involved embracing innovation, collaborating with experts within and outside the housing sector and improving communication with residents.”

Futurist innovation and learnings from other technology-led sectors were explored further by speakers including Koen Kas, Founder and CEO of digital health strategy company, Healthskouts and Ian Wright, Founder and CEO, from the Disruptive Innovators Network (DIN) who looked at disruptive technologies that could benefit housing providers and improve tenant wellbeing. Breakout sessions from energy efficiency software company, Ambue, ground source heat pump manufacturer, Kensa, AI building surveyors, Spotr and Switchee carried on the innovation theme.

The closing keynote was from Dr Rose Chard, Fair Future Programme Lead, from Energy Systems Catapult, a centre of excellence set up by the UK Government to accelerate the path to Net Zero. Dr Chard’s session covered the Warm Home Prescription pilot where NHS Gloucestershire is prescribing heat to patients. The trial allows data exchange and referrals between NHS Trusts and energy providers so that people with medical conditions exacerbated by cold living conditions receive help with their energy bills.

Attendee Michael Barber, Chief Information Officer at affordable housing provider, CHP said: “I enjoyed the quality of speakers, the interactions and the breakouts. It has been really good to see different ways of thinking.”

Tom concludes: “The Summit highlighted a real passion for data-led decision making that will improve residents’ daily lives. Despite the challenges faced, there was a genuine positivity throughout the day that the social housing industry can and will do better. What has got us here today will not suffice in the future and change is happening.

“Our first Summit was a huge success. It was exciting, stimulating and solutions focussed. Delegates learned how data is driving positive change in addressing entrenched issues across the sector and how they can build it into their organisations.”

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