One of the consequences of last year’s cyber attack on Hackney’s IT infrastructure was that it meant the loss of the previous system that our Benefits and Housing Needs Officers (Housing Register) used to manage applications to be placed on Hackney’s housing register. Likewise, the public-facing system that allowed Hackney residents to apply for the register was taken offline.
Given those circumstances, and with changes having been made to the London Borough of Hackney Lettings Policy, the opportunity was taken to revisit and assess the entire process of applying to join the housing register in order to ensure that we provided the best service possible for applicants, in addition to an effective “back-end” process for Benefits and Housing Needs Officers (Housing Register).
A cross-functional team comprised of our colleagues from FutureGov and members of Hackney’s Benefits and Housing Needs team undertook extensive research with groups of potential service users and Benefits and Housing Needs Officers (Housing Register) to design a user-friendly and easily accessible application process, built according to HackIT and GDS standards.
The new process and system was successfully launched to a small group of residents in the past few weeks and the team is currently using the feedback from that group and from the Benefits and Housing Needs Officers (Housing Register) in order to iterate quickly, so that any defects are resolved and additional features are launched as soon as possible. Congratulations to everyone on the team for reaching this important milestone!
In addition, the team has participated in a Service Assessment exercise with a cross-functional panel made up mainly of staff from HackIT. This assessment was designed to evaluate how well the service had been designed and how well the team had operated against the GDS Service Standard. This is not a “pass or fail” exercise, but a way of reflecting and assessing any areas of potential improvement that can be implemented going forward. The team has received great credit for how they have worked so far, and are planning as to how best to take on board the recommendations for improvement.
Once this initial phase of rollout has been completed, it is hoped that the system will be gradually rolled out to a wider group of residents, in addition to the support and improvement of the system being handed over fully to Hackney staff.