Digitisation in focus at Grampian Housing Association AGM

A move towards more digital services for tenants was highlighted at the annual general meeting of Grampian Housing Association earlier this week (Tuesday, September 26, 2017).

Norton Bertram-Smith, who was re-elected as chairman of the Association, highlighted its aim to become a digital provider, allowing customers more access to online services and offering more choice and flexibility to tenants.

It’s hoped the move will help tenants with welfare reform and the introduction of Universal Credit, with GHA estimating that around 35 percent of customers currently receiving housing benefit, working tax and child tax credits may move to the new single benefit.

Mr Bertram-Smith is founder and managing director of On Purpose, a strategic leadership consultancy he founded in 2004, and was previously managing director of Aberdeen Airport.

Commenting on his re-election, Mr Bertram-Smith said: “It has been a demanding, yet rewarding first year as chairman. Welfare reform and the roll-out of Universal Credit makes us acutely aware of the need for our money advice, housing support and energy advice projects.

“Our 2016-2017 report outlines how we aim to meet the increasing desire of customers who want to access and use our services 24/7, and to provide more choice and flexibility in the way we deliver our services.

“Grampian Housing Association is working to be a digital provider and we have signed the Scottish Government’s Digital Participation Charter to show our commitment to providing more online access to our services for tenants, sharing owners and other customers.”

Members attending the AGM also heard about the Association’s successes, including the launch of a new subsidiary, TLC Housing Maintenance, to undertake planned maintenance; energy efficiency, including external insulation of hard to heat properties; support for tenants through its money advice, housing support and energy advice projects; commUNITY walkabouts as part of its customer participation activities; and building new homes for both social rent and mid-market rent.

Mr Bertram-Smith added:

“The Scottish Government recognises that the supply of new affordable housing needs to be a high priority.  We are keen to support this and with the purchase of land at larger sites the Association has been able to double its target for new build homes in the North-east from 200 to 400 over the course of the next five years.”

Peter Kennedy, one of the Association’s sharing owners who works as an employability officer with Aberdeenshire Council, has also been re-elected as vice chairman.

He said:

“As a customer of the Association I am making the most of the opportunity to represent the views of customers at a strategic level and I am enjoying supporting Norton in driving Grampian’s future direction.”

Five new members, Dr Abhishek Agarwal, Dr Margaret Bochel, Mark Buchan, Fraser Graham and Bob Taylor, also joined the Board.

The retirement of Richard Robertson, the Association’s longest standing Board member with 15 years’ service was marked.

Around 17 members of the Association attended the AGM, which was held at the Association’s Aberdeen office.