Case Study: One Housing Group
One Housing Group manages over 15,000 homes across 27 of the 33 London Boroughs as well as having some stock across Berkshire.
Collection Rate: 101.1%
Income Officer Capacity Created: 4.3 FTE
Arrears Collection: collected more than £750,000 in arrears in 12 months
Prior to using RentSense One Housing Group were unhappy with the support their Housing Management System (HMS) gave to manage their arrears and collections and used manual systems to compensate. However, due to welfare reform and the onset of Universal Credit they were keen to use these changes as an opportunity to improve performance and ready the organisation for UC.
At that time there were issues with the list the HMS was creating, as the accounts put forward were not reliable, and according to Vincent Thomas, Assistant Director at One Housing:
“Every team member had to report back every month on each account on their patch and classify which needed actions and which did not. It was a very manual system, but we had to do this to ensure everything was covered. This prompted us to look at investing in RentSense, as we believed it could deliver a quick win in terms of efficiencies and a strong return on our investment.”
The Right Cases
Vincent had experience of other Mobysoft solutions prior to working at One Housing as was aware of the intelligence behind the technology.
“The engine that generated the text messages, that I had used previously, ensured nothing slipped through the net. We wanted RentSense so it would flag the right cases, just those that needed attention, and enable the team to work smarter, and focus on the accounts that needed looking at.”
The Threat of Welfare Reform
At present One Housing have had limited impact from Universal Credit, with the majority of their local authorities going live over the next twelve months, and therefore they are expecting it to ramp up from the hundreds of claimants, they currently have, to the thousands. For other welfare reforms One Housing invested in additional resources which helped mitigate the impact of the benefit cap and the bedroom tax, but they are expecting a greater challenge from UC.
One Housing have modelled the impact of Universal Credit on their organisation by looking at the findings from the demonstration projects, which found that in the long-term organisations can expect collection rates to drop by 3.6%, whereas in the transition period to UC collection rates will drop to 67%.
“The case for RentSense is to increase collection in the first three months by reacting more quickly, and if the collection rate is impacted by 3.6% over the longer term then we want that to impact from the highest possible base. So rather than starting at 99%, where we were before RentSense, we are now starting at 101%. Essentially the strategic aim for choosing RentSense was to ensure we had our accounts in the best possible state to weather the storm we could see coming with Universal Credit,” explains Vincent.
Deploying RentSense was a quick and seamless project for One Housing done to the scheduled timescales. An additional benefit that they have found is the system is very easy to use, and they have welcomed the on-going on-site visits that their Client Success Consultant makes along with their Account Director.
“The additional visits and training and support that Mobysoft offer is really beneficial to get the system used well and get the best results, what’s more there is no extra costs for this, it is part of the service.”
Driving Up Collection
Simplistically, for One Housing it was about targeting the right cases and optimising performance so the income team has more time to spend on mitigating welfare reform, rather than increasing staff numbers. The results for One Housing reflect very positively on the decision to deploy RentSense.
“As a result of RentSense presenting the team with the right cases they have been able to increase our collection rate from below 100% to 101.1%,” comments Vincent, “which highlight that we are doing a lot to recover historical arrears.”
“RentSense has also helped improve the quality of our patches. Since deployment there has been a 45% improvement in quality of patches based on looking at priority one recommendations for general needs. And we have seen a 37% improvement for leasehold as well.”
The rising collection rates and focusing on the right cases at the right time mean that One Housing has collected £600,000 more across general needs properties in the financial year 2016/17 and a further £150,000 improvement on leasehold stock over the same period, with arrears also falling by about 19%. There has continued to be a similar level of improvement in 2017/18.
The decision to invest in RentSense has also helped deliver some key efficiencies, it has reduced the officer caseload by around 35%, and also created the full-time equivalent (FTE) of 4.3 officers, has validated their decision to increase the capacity of existing staff rather than recruiting more. Not only are One Housing pleased with their decision and investment in RentSense but Vincent then explains why he would recommend it to other social landlords.
“With a good strategy and good people, you still need great tools to deliver excellent performance. RentSense reduces wasted effort and lets you focus on the positive work. In the long term we are financially better off, we have reduced arrears without having to increase staff, and our collection rates have really improved.”
Indeed, the collection rates have been analysed across the business and there have been some significant milestones achieved by using RentSense, as Vincent explains.
“It is the first time the team had ever had a collection rate more than 100%, and that’s through working smarter. But what’s really pleasing is that by March 2017 we had over 100% collection on every single patch. I’ve never seen that before, there are usually one or two patches that are stubbornly low, but this was exceptional performance and fostered a real feelgood factor in the team, where everyone is able to perform and hit targets.”