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Peabody IT director building home improvements

Mark Chillingworth | July 30, 2013
One thing is clear about Martin Carpenter: his passion for the sector he operates within.

People are given opportunities to work through a variety of means. For instance, Peabody has a van that visits its sites and acts a training centre for internet skills, and an apprenticeship scheme exists in association with London's Evening Standard newspaper and for filling internal positions at the organisation.

"So we look after people in our community. The proportion of people that live and understand technology is increasing and will become more and more important. Some 15% of our residents are already online and we have an ambition for everyone to be online," he says of the e-skills strategy.

"Mobile technology is helping with the community engagement, we have kids building apps," he adds.

Taxing times

But re-skilling is just one of the challenges Peabody and its tenants are facing. In April the Conservative-led coalition introduced what has become known as the Bedroom Tax which states that housing benefit claimants with a spare room in their property will have their benefit reduced as a result of under-occupancy of the property. At the same time the government has also slashed its funding for social housing.

"Peabody is looking to the City and elsewhere for funding as government funding has reduced for new builds and Universal Credit is expected to put revenues under pressure," he says.

Additional pressure is also coming from the sector's regulator, the Homes and Communities Agency, which wants to see increased innovation in achieving value for money. This could include outsourcing of the day-to-day management of housing services, which the CBI says could deliver £650 million in savings. Carpenter has experience of outsourcing from his time in the private sector, but thinks that outsourcing opportunities in social housing could see sector players simply outsource services to each other and may not deliver the savings observers expect.

For Peabody to face these funding challenges it has to operate as efficiently as possible and in the year that Carpenter has been with Peabody he has been laying down transformation technology plans for the association.

"Business excellence with operational efficiency and customer satisfaction is key. IT-wise we have a heavy emphasis on mobile, so we are driving that as a delivery channel and to continue to deliver even more services by mobile as we go forward," he says.

"We are channel shifting, and moving to deliver more of our services digitally and online, and this is step one," he says of the new housing management application that he and his team have integrated.

Mobile homes

The housing management system not only allows Peabody to go mobile, but has also allowed it to consolidate its core business applications from six fragmented applications to one. Carpenter's mobile strategy also allows the organisation to do more business on the move.


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