An Englishman’s Castle is His Home

IGEL is working with a vast number of housing associations throughout the UK providing cost effective thin client solutions for their staff. That’s over 30 organisations who in total manage tens of thousands of properties. Cost is important.  Without meaning to state the obvious, the raison d’être of a housing association is to focus funds on providing housing not blowing it unnecessarily on operating expenses like IT.

Community Gateway Association (CGA), who mange 6,500 properties in the North West of England, recently installed 200 IGEL UD3 terminals at its new HQ in Preston. They selected Igel terminals because of their reliability, positive customer references and management simplicity. Our UMS is included for free and is easy to use compared to competitors who have cumbersome and costly alternatives.  This was key criteria as CGA has a small internal IT team of three to support the whole organisation.

In addition, our devices also offer operating system flexibility. CGA wanted its desktop terminal hardware to be agnostic irrespective of the backend server software used.  We offer this kind of ‘future proofing’ which is a big positive.  It means CGA can run either Microsoft – as they do today – or simply swap to Citrix at a later stage if they so wish without the unnecessary expense of then changing desktop devices.

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Housing Associations play a pivotal role in the UK housing market

The latest data from the Office of National Statistics and Land Registry shows that UK house prices have increased 6.9% in the past year. It means the average cost of a house in England is now £232,655 with hotspots like London obviously much, much more expensive. You’re going to need a cool £1.2 million just to buy an average house in a borough like Kensington and Chelsea.

So, if you’re a first time buyer or a key worker like a teacher, nurse or police officer, forget it – getting in on property ownership is just unrealistic. Think of classic schoolboy economics – demand outstrips supply. That drives up prices.

While the London skyline might be peppered with cranes and every other street corner seems to have a housing development going up, the reality is that – as a nation – we are simply not building enough new homes. And they appear to be the wrong type. Developers are whacking up luxury accommodation to maximise profits rather providing what is really needed and that is affordable housing. Take a simple example.  In inner London, a qualified teacher in the early stages of their career is going to earn around £28,000 per annum which means a budget to buy of roughly £112,000 if you multiple salary four times – the standard mortgage model in the UK.  That doesn’t even get a toe nail through the home ownership door let alone a foot.

Little wonder then that housing associations have become so important. Many have taken over the running of local authority properties as well as managing the new-shared ownership schemes which the UK Government is pushing. This is where key workers buy a stake in a flat – say 25% – and an association owns the rest. The purchaser then pays three bills – a mortgage for their percentage, rent to the housing association for the remainder and a service charge. The idea is to get more people into their own homes rather than renting.

Needless to say housing associations have become super important. That’s why ensuring they are as efficient and effective as possible is crucial with cost effective IT playing its part to achieve this.

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