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Capita: How smarter technology can end fuel poverty #techUKSmarterState

This week (26-30 September) the Central Government Programme is running its Building Smarter State Week in the run-up to the eighth edition of our flagship public services conference, Building the Smarter State, which will take place at The Royal Society on Thursday 29 September. All week we'll be featuring guest blogs from members on topics supportive the agenda.

Read the latest blog below:

Building smarter cities starts with people, not technology. Smart technology isn’t just about using artificial intelligence, IoT and automation to streamline operations. It’s also about using technology and data purposefully to make informed decisions, strengthen communities and deliver a better quality of life for citizens.  

With energy bills rocketing, it’s estimated that over 6.7 million people could be in fuel poverty from October 2022. In a bid to stem this crisis, the government have recently announced a two-year plan to cap the cost of household energy from 1 October 2022, so the average bill is £2,500 annually. Although this is lower than Ofgem’s £3,549-a-year projection, £2,500 still represents a doubling of average energy bills in the space of a year and a £500 increase since April 2022. The cap is therefore unlikely to significantly reduce the number of households falling into fuel poverty this winter.  

One of the more vulnerable groups who will be impacted by this escalating problem are social housing tenants; a significant proportion of whom are low-income households.  

Whilst tackling fuel poverty may feel difficult, it’s not impossible. It requires a fresh new approach – one that places human welfare on an equal footing with profits. By merging the right people, processes and technology, lower costs and a better quality of life can be achieved for citizens, including the most vulnerable.  

Breaking silos 

Many housing providers are offering additional support, from increased crisis support funding, fuel vouchers, to advice sessions for those who are struggling to cope. But as the cost-of-living crisis deepens, many providers are looking hard at how smart technology can improve the capabilities of their operations and ensure their software systems are optimised, so they can ramp up support before the weather gets colder. 

One way of maximising limited resources is the efficient collation and use of data, which is why Capita has developed a housing management system that brings the appropriate datasets into one clear and simple dashboard. Often, information about tenants and the composition of their homes are held in silos. By collating and analysing these different datasets together, multiple benefits can be achieved, including reducing fuel poverty.  

Identifying the root cause  

If for example, you bring together a resident’s energy consumption data with the energy performance of their property – something our system has the potential to deliver via third-party smart meter data – housing providers can gain valuable insights into that home. It may for example show that a resident has high energy bills at the same time as living in a house categorised with an EPC rating of band ‘C’ or above, making it energy efficient. 

By delving deeper into the data, our software can look at the reasons behind the differences and see whether the property is being heated properly or whether there is anything structurally wrong with the building, for example. This type of information can enable housing providers to give targeted support to those most at risk of fuel poverty. 

Making a difference  

By analysing data, we can see how the housing landscape is changing: who is living in fuel poverty, what interventions need to be made, and what it will cost. When connected technology is used effectively, it has the potential to transform the housing sector. The implementation of smart meters and smart thermostats have already begun to change how residents consume energy and heat their homes. But as the energy crisis intensifies, and inflation continues to rise, housing providers can make a bigger difference - using the power of data with the right systems can dramatically lower financial pressures for the most vulnerable residents and prevent fuel poverty from having devastating effects. 

Find out more about our housing software solutions here. 

jon peart capita.jpeg

This article was written by Jon Peart, Director of Housing, Capita. Learn more about this author here.

To learn more about Capita, please visit their LinkedIn and Twitter.

Building The Smarter State Conference - 29 September

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