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BT’s shared Internet scheme helps social housing tenants find employment

BT is launching a new shared Internet service, specifically designed to offer affordable connections and devices to those living in housing associations.

Developed as part of the Connected Society programme, the scheme could offer shared access between residents to reduce monthly costs, alongside training and support for individuals.

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BT will be supplying the service and will decide the best option for each facility, whether that is paying on a per unit basis or making Wi-Fi available in communal areas, such as with care homes. Tenants will therefore receive web access without having to go through credit checks and other qualifications that normally accompany social housing.

Graham Sutherland, CEO at BT Business, explained that his company has been working closely with housing associations to understand what they and their tenants need.

"There are currently 6.4 million adults in the UK that have never used the Internet, with 4.1 million of those in social housing," he said. "It's crucial that they have access to go online – and that's why we're working with housing associations to help ensure those on low incomes or who are unemployed, elderly or disabled have access to the Internet."

The project also ensures that individuals have the necessary skills and confidence to utilise the Internet effectively. A similar scheme has already been trialled at one of Glasgow Housing Association's properties at Kirkton Avenue in cooperation with the Scottish Government.

The initiative has, so far, proven successful, winning the ICT Connect Award 2014 and providing high speed Wi-Fi to 138 homes via a single BTnet connection.

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The social benefits of being connected are already revealing themselves, with two thirds of tenants now searching for a job online, and four per cent having already successful found employment.