Case Study: Gentoo
Gentoo was a stock transfer from Sunderland Council in 2001. Gentoo is a housing association that owns and manages more than 29,000 homes.
They believe that by putting people first we can build great homes and create strong communities. They are focused on delivering an outstanding service to customers and as a responsible business, pride themselves on inspiring people to make a difference. They are one of the largest employers in Sunderland and landlords in the North East.
Collection Rate: 100.35%
Universal Credit Collection Rate: 99.7%
FTE Capacity Created: 7 FTE
Prior to using RentSense Gentoo were using their Housing Management System (HMS) to generate their arrears caseload for their Neighbourhood Coordinators/. Rather than have a specialist income team Gentoo has generic Neighbourhood Coordinators who work closely with customers to provide a tailored service which can include the allocation of homes, rent collection and referrals to support services.
They typically spent two days of their working week collecting rent, performance was good and standard arrears low, around 1% and falling. However, there was concern about the potential impact of Universal Credit.
“Welfare reform and Universal Credit are highlighted as key risks within Gentoo,” explains Susie Thompson, Deputy Director Gentoo Operations.
“We did not invest in RentSense to reduce our arrears, we invested in RentSense to free up capacity, so we are able to move resource around to suit the changing business needs,” comments Susie.
The Threat of Universal Credit
At the beginning of 2018 Gentoo had around 700 customers claiming Universal Credit, but when full-service is rolled-out this will rise to around 10,000 customers. Their risk register identifies Universal Credit as a key risk.To help mitigate this risk Gentoo has trained their Money Matters team on all things UC, and every customer that makes the switch to UC goes through their Money Matters Team.
“In the short-term it is quite intensive, and we are in constant contact to remind those residents to pay their rent,” explains Susie.
Cases only ever leave the Money Matters Team when the customer has established a payment pattern.
“To continue with this approach when full-service goes live in July 2018 we will require more resource within the team and the only way to do this is to redeploy existing resources. “The investment in RentSense is key in helping facilitate some of the resource required,” explains Susie.
Gentoo has seven area offices where Neighbourhood Coordinators are based. The initial consultancy delivered by Mobysoft highlighted how different offices used different methods to manage their collection process, with some spending a significant amount of time checking each record.
Once RentSense was installed the old system for checking records was immediately turned off, which meant that officers were only working on arrears cases that needed action.
“So far RentSense has really helped deliver additional capacity into the team by giving the officers the right cases.” Comments Susie
The caseload reduction was immediate delivering a reduction of around 40% initially, this gave officers more time to deal with more complex cases as well as work on other projects. Some officers did raise concerns that they were not seeing cases they expected to see, but on inspection the RentSense caseload was accurate.
“We needed additional resource, but we could not see how we could release capacity for UC, but with RentSense we have managed to do that quite painlessly,” comments Susie.
“RentSense has helped us to free up seven full-time equivalent staff, who will be seconded to the Money Matters Team prior to Universal Credit full-service roll-out.”
RentSense has also helped the officers spend more time with those customers that require assistance or on more complex cases. Officers have also explained how they now have more time to deal with other aspects of their job.
Not only is Gentoo’s performance further improving, with arrears dropping below 1% and their overall collection rate around 100.35% but their collection rate on Universal Credit is 99.7%. With RentSense delivering key efficiencies for Gentoo, Susie is pleased with the outcomes delivered by the Mobysoft service.
“The deployment was very, very easy. The biggest concern was our IT team as their resources are stretched, but it required very little of their time. It is one of the easiest projects that I have been involved with, and the care and service from Jo (Gentoo’s allotted Client Success Manager) has been excellent,” highlights Susie.
Gentoo has had RentSense for around eight months and its impact has been felt around the organisation and when asked if they would recommend the product to other social landlords they said:
“For us investing in RentSense was about efficiencies and releasing capacity to do other things. Every landlord is different, but I don’t know why you would not use something that will save you time, effort and money.”