Case Study: Genesis Housing Association
Genesis Housing Association, a member of the G15, has around 33,000 homes, the majority of which are concentrated in London; however, it does have some stock reaching as far North as Hertfordshire and to Essex and East Anglia to the East.
Genesis’ chief executive, Neil Hadden, recently commented that “far-reaching and rapid change in the sector meant landlords needed to evolve to survive.” Part of this transformation is landlords adopting the mentality of being socially hearted yet commercially minded.
Arrears: 6% (March 2015) down to 4.5%(March 2016)
Arrears Reduction (1 year): 25%
Arrears Saving: £2m+ (1 year)
Income Officer Capacity Created: 10.47
In 2014 Genesis went through a restructure whereby the Income Team took on around 5,000 temporary properties, and headcount also increased, with the income team rising to 42. As part of the restructure the management were keen to streamline and harmonise working practices whilst improving their incumbent systems.
“At that time we were relying on pending actions from our HMS and arrears spreadsheets,” explains Clare Toye, Income Services Manager at Genesis. “These were not the most efficient way to look at accounts as not all accounts needed action. We also wanted to ensure a smooth transition to approaching cases as a multi-tenure organisation, with the addition of temporary housing.”
Genesis were also keen that any system they deployed could react to ever-changing welfare reform.
“We were trying to identify and contact customers affected (by welfare reform and Universal Credit) but were relying on our own spreadsheets to do so,” comments Clare. “We wanted to know that if their account fell into trouble they would be flagged immediately.”
“The decision was made to deploy RentSense,” explained Clare. “With RentSense the process is far more data-driven and far more precise as a result of that. It helps automate the arrears process and gives us the confidence that income officers are looking at accounts because they need to be looked at.”
Mitigating welfare reform
Not only is RentSense helping mitigate welfare reform for Genesis; according to Clare, “we are identifying as soon as there is an issue with their account:” but Genesis has also separated welfare reform customers from other customers within the system.
Recently the housing benefit back date payment period was reduced from six months to just four weeks. RentSense is able to immediately flag when housing benefit is expected but missing, so Genesis are able contact the tenants straight away, rather than wait to be notified by the local authority or tenant themselves or spot the anomaly in their HMS.
“We know immediately,” explains Clare. “We contact the customer and help get their claim back on track; this is invaluable.”
RentSense has helped Genesis combat on-going welfare reform but also it has created tangible efficiencies whilst helping them maximise income and protect revenues.
“We estimate, based on Mobysoft data, that RentSense has created the equivalent capacity of 10.47 income officers or FTE,” comments Clare. “This capacity is helping us mitigate welfare reform, Universal Credit and drive down arrears.”
This additional capacity has helped ensure that income officers can really hone in on the accounts they are supposed to look at and that Genesis can operate as a multi-tenure team. “Also, if someone is on leave it is very easy to delegate their work to other colleagues,” explains Clare. All of which helps protect revenue and maximise their income collection.
In March 2015 the income team’s arrears were 6% and just twelve months later were at 4.5%. Not only was this a marked improvement, it was also 1% ahead of their target of 5.5%.
“RentSense has contributed to us reducing arrears by over £2m in just one year. These results are significant and put us in a strong position especially with the rent cut and Universal Credit impacting the sector.”
Moving forward with RentSense
RentSense has played a significant role in creating efficiencies and maximising income, it has also helped introduce more automation into the income collection process whilst giving managers a more informed picture of how the team and individuals are performing and how they manage their workload.
However, for Clare, that RentSense continually evolves is paramount in helping Genesis.
“RentSense can assist us moving forward, as the solution is constantly adapting and improving; it is really important to us it has not remained static.”
RentSense certainly fits the new mantra in social housing of being “socially hearted yet commercially minded” and it is helping many landlords adopt this mentality too.