AN IT support worker who trained at Buxton & Leek College has picked up a prestigious award for developing innovative software to help housing tenants pay their rent and office staff chase arrears.
Now Matt Cotton, aged 25, pictured, from Stoke-on-Trent, is being hailed a housing hero for his work at Macclesfield-based Peaks and Plains Housing Trust, which has seen rent collection rates rise by around £20,000 a month and saved his employer around £30,000 a year on software.
Matt, who studied for his Foundation Degree at the college, graduated in 2010.
Having worked his way up from ICT trainee at the age of 18, he is now an ICT Support Officer and developed a new phone app which offers customers of Peaks and Plains an easy way to pay rent and manage their tenancies, as well as new software to improve efficiency for office staff.
The new software for staff, known as an Arrears Management Tool, helps Peaks and Plains chase up rent arrears and won the award for the most innovative IT system at the recent Housing Innovation Awards.
Matt is now helping to train a new apprentice, Alex Wilkes, from Leek, who is following in his footsteps with a course at the Leek campus of Buxton & Leek College.
Simon Penaluna, Assistant Director of ICT at Peaks and Plains, said: "We have now had three great apprentices from Buxton & Leek College, first Andy Stoddart from Cheadle, then Matt, and now Alex.
"All three are still with us and the college has proved a great source of young talent and reliable staff for us."
Matt, whose interest in computers goes back to when he was just seven and his family bought him his first PC, has continued his studies with further courses to boost his knowledge of IT. The award for the Arrears Management Tool was the second achieved by the IT team at Peaks and Plains.
Only last year the six-strong team received an IT Team of the Year award in a housing sector competition.
Brian Mainwaring, Programme Co-Ordinator for Higher Education at Buxton and Leek College, said: "It's always great to see our students succeed and we are very proud of Matt and his successes. We know that he will go far in his career and are pleased that our current student, Alex Wilkes, has such a great role model."