The new first of its kind pilot is providing a sustainable solution to getting social housing residents across Greater Manchester online and benefitting from the digital world.
The pilot brings together, for the first time, five of the UK’s largest internet service providers, collaborating with the public and housing sector to tackle the challenges of digital exclusion, faced by social housing residents. Around 260,000 of Greater Manchester residents live in a social housing setting and we estimate that up to 60% face levels of digital exclusion.
Five internet service providers and five social housing providers will work in partnership to provide more accessible offers for customers, such as discounted and more flexible rates for high-speed internet. Those involved include:
- Wythenshawe Community Housing Group (external website) and Virgin Media O2 (external website)
- Stockport Homes and BT/Openreach
- Bolton at Home and Hyperoptic
- Southway Housing Trust (external website) and Vodafone
- Wigan Council and TalkTalk/Freedom Fibre
Residents participating in the pilot will also be able to benefit from digital skills training to support them to build their skills and confidence online. If you're a resident with one of the above social housing providers, please contact your provider directly for further information.
Greater Manchester is stepping up its response to the cost-of-living crisis affecting residents, with leaders announcing a new range of support measures and a new drive to coordinate efforts across the city-region, this new pilot will support these efforts along with tackling the digital divide in Greater Manchester.
The pilot was formally launched at Connected Britain 2022 (external website), by Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.
Find out more on research sharing sessions for the pilot taking place throughout late 2022 and early 2023.
Fix the digital divide: for a digital society
Following the pilot, senior leaders from across the UK came together in Manchester to share and discuss the most pressing issues and challenges to fixing the digital divide for UK citizens. Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) brought together representatives from the Scottish and Welsh governments, the largest national telecommunications industry providers, social housing sector, charities, academia and local authorities in the Fix the Digital Divide: for a Digital Society Summit.
During the event, a significant outcome of the pilot was announced - the development of a standardised property wayleave and specification agreement for Greater Manchester’s social housing stock that will speed up industry investment and reduce work for housing organisations. This agreement will also address challenges to delivering internet connectivity to homes and simplify access issues in relation to the practical and costly delivery to social housing homes.
Watch both sessions of the event below.
Fixing the Digital Divide: for a digital society - event recording part 1
Fixing the Digital Divide: for a digital society - event recording part 2
Results of the pilot
The University of Liverpool was commissioned by GMCA to undertake an observational and reflective study of the social housing digital pilot. Led by Professor Simeon Yates, the aims of the
research project were to undertake the following:
- Initial assessment of digital access, skills, and community support for each area, including new survey data and administrative data
- Qualitative exploration of impacts of digital exclusion in target communities and observational and ethnographic documentation of the programme set-up and implementation in each target area
- Quantitative assessment of the uptake of the programme and demographics of households
- Qualitative examination of household and community experience of programme participation
- Qualitative and quantitative assessment of digital exclusion factors in each area
What does this mean for our people?
Watch this video from Wythenshawe Community Housing Group and Virgin Media, which gives insight into the impact the pilot has had on people across Greater Manchester.
Mayor of Greater Manchester launches social housing digital inclusion pilot at Connected Britain 2022 (external website)
Digital inclusion pilot for social housing residents - research sharing sessions
Research findings from the largest digital inclusion social housing intervention pilot
Get Online Greater Manchester
Here to help Greater Manchester residents get online & build digital skills