The introduction of universal credit continues. Tenants now have to manage their money differently – from weekly housing benefit payments paid directly to their landlord - to a single monthly income to cover a range of benefits, paid directly into their personal bank account.
To find out more about this service, download our pro-active rent collection and arrears management brochure.
Already it’s having a knock-on financial and social impact, with an increase in missed rents payments, arrears, and tenancy eviction.
In the London Borough of Southwark the number of claimants in receipt of full service universal credit and owing more than 8 weeks rent arrears increased by 20% in just three weeks.
If these accounts are not managed proactively it is expected to have significant social and financial impacts on local authorities. Not only is it impacting revenue collection, councils are facing a rise in court orders, where it can take years for debt to be fully recovered, an increase in costly tenancy terminations, compounded by a rising demand for expensive temporary accommodation. This can all contribute to wider social and mental health issues, placing additional strains on public services.
How we can help
We can help to prevent tenants getting into debt in the first place to minimise the knock-on impact to your residents and services. We offer a pro-active customer contact service, which helps customers fully understand the changes, their responsibilities and support with convenient payment arrangements to ensure rents aren’t missed. For more information download our pro-active rent collection and arrears management brochure.
How it works:
We use insight to profile customers in areas that are more likely to be impacted by universal credit, have the propensity to miss payments or have rent arrears. Our team firstly contacts tenants to help to explain the payment options that are available, arranges to take rent payments and helps eligible tenants who need alternative payment arrangements (APAs) applied to their universal credit.
Specifically, we focus on:
- Promoting automated and digital payment methods
- Providing information on how universal credit works
- Helping people in vulnerable situations who need additional support and families with complex needs
- Helping eligible tenants have alternative payment arrangements (APAs) applied to their universal credit
We can work alongside your existing teams and procedures to provide a fully-managed service, from profiling and contact management to taking and making payment arrangements, signposting to wider support and preparing court documentation for non-payers.
We are the market leader in revenue collection and customer management for local government, with a strong track record of improving debt collection across local authorities. Our approach focusses on customer advocacy to support and prevent customers getting into debt. We use insight, analytics and behavioural science to promote the right outcomes for your organisation, all handled by our revenues and customer service specialists, who are fully trained the in latest legislation, handling sensitive, outbound communications and setting up payment arrangements to meet differing needs. We have the flexibility to offer extended opening hours to residents and flexible commercial agreements to suit the local authority. Our digital customer experience team help to shape continuous improvement and efficiency.