South Staffordshire Housing Association Repairs Direct Services

Statistics indicate that the biggest non-commercial age group users of the internet are the over 60's. As sixty percent of our residents are of pensionable age the Association has begun to roll out a range of internet based services designed to allow residents and others to access services and information when it suits them.

The latest addition to the website has been the Repairs Direct Service which was launched in September 2000. Repairs Direct allows Tenants, Sheltered Housing Scheme Managers and "Field Based" staff to either request a property inspection or identify and report repairs with the aid of simple to follow diagrams and clear options.

Users can also obtain advice on what to do in certain situations such as changing a fuse and print off a receipt confirming what has been requested.

When a repair is requested the software immediately sends a e-mail to the Association's customer services team which contains all of the usual personal details required to effect a repair together with the appropriate code for the task from our Schedule of Rates. The repairs are then ordered in the usual way. This last part of the process is not ideal and the next stage of development is to allow the information in the e-mail to be pasted directly into the resultant works order. At the moment emergency repairs cannot be reported using the service and this is another area identified for improvement.

The cost of implementation has been minimised by purchasing the relatively inexpensive diagnostic and reporting service from a third party, Housing Software Services Limited. Following this route resulted in the services being up and running within three weeks of the initial idea. Since the product, as a standard feature, is linked to the National Housing Federation's Schedule of Rates, which is in use by the Housing Association, implementation was surprisingly painless and trouble free.

Although the service is relatively new, take up is encouraging. The cost of processing a repair via this route is extremely cost effective and the projected savings are being invested to provide internet access at each of the Association's 14 sheltered housing schemes which in unit terms equates to 12% of the stock.

Subject to the satisfactory completion of the current field trials, the Association will be making internet access available through either On digital or Sky during the course of 2001. This has, in part, been a necessary response to the need to equip certain types of communal dwellings with digital TV receiving equipment. This will effectively enable residents to use their TV as a form of internet access.

The Association is planning to set itself up as an internet service provider to give greater access to the internet at affordable levels and plans to develop training packages for residents. Other services for web use have been identified and will be developed over the coming months.

The Repairs Direct Service can be accessed through The design company responsible for the repairs software can viewed at

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