Case Study: Wandle
Wandle Housing Association, founded in 1967, is based in South London and works across nine London Boroughs and has over 7,000 homes.
Officer Capacity Credted: 2.80 FTE
Caseload Reduction: 46% 2,945 down to 1,587
Arrears Reduction: £117,800 (in 8 months)
Prior to RentSense Wandle housing officers used manually generated lists to manage arrears. Staff would get their list and sort by arrears band and then work through and look at every single case.
“To do this in a week was simply not possible so they spent a month working through their list,” comments Martin Keating, Income Manager at Wandle.
There were real concerns about inefficiency, as officers would waste time looking at cases that required no action, but they also had other jobs to perform, as they were generic housing officers at that time, so it was becoming harder to maintain and improve performance.
“The staff were also frustrated as we could see how much effort they were putting in, but without necessarily getting the right results,” commented Martin.
Catalyst for Change
In 2015/16 Wandle went through a re-structure which prompted change throughout the organisation, and with concerns about on-going welfare reform Wandle wanted a more dynamic approach to income collection, especially with Universal Credit on the horizon. They realised they needed to create more capacity within the team to deal with the changing environment, so they invested in RentSense whilst also switching from a generic to a specialist function. Moreover, Wandle heavily invested in training their income officers so they had the knowledge and expertise to advise tenants on benefits and welfare reform as well as provide specialist income assistance.
“We wanted to use RentSense to drive down the number of cases officers were looking at each week and create time and capacity, so we can be more proactive to residents,” comments Jackie Thomas, Head of Housing at Wandle.
RentSense reduced Wandle’s weekly caseload by 46% from 2,945 cases each week by to 1,825 so officers are now able to get through their workload but this in turn also helped create a capacity within the income function equivalent to 2.8 FTE. In addition to helping Wandle operationally, management also wanted RentSense to help support their Customer FIrst strategy, as Jackie explains.
“Our services are reliant on us being as efficient as possible and maximising our income collection. With RentSense it helps on both fronts, it delivers efficiencies and helps us collect more. Which in turn means we can invest more of resources back into our services.”
Wandle has also used RentSense to flag those tenants that may need additional support and it enables them to be identified at the earliest stages of debt, and at times before going into arrears. With the additional time officers have, with a much-reduced caseload, they can spend longer on those cases that need more support.
“RentSense acts as a trigger that helps us support residents,” comments Jackie. “It helps with our “My Money” project, as RentSense triages residents at an early stage so officers can then offer that support, and not only help them out of debt but help put the building blocks in place for residents’ longer term aspirations and help them with their financial stability.”
The income team took to RentSense really quickly for several reasons, partly because it reduced their caseload so they were focusing on the right cases, but also because they found the system really intuitive and easy to use.
Insightful Management Tool
Management now also have insight into the team’s performance and can monitor actions and staff in real time.
“We can see exactly what work is being done and when,” comments Martin. “It was a reactive process beforehand with a scattergun approach to rent collection. But now you can see exactly what the team are doing and focus on who is doing what and how they are performing”
The insight management have has helped them highlight to the income team the benefit of getting through their caseload, as they can now evidence how if this is done then their caseload falls week on week.
“We have seen a huge workload reduction, and we are seeing that officers are now getting through their caseload. But they also realise that if they get through their caseload each week then the following week their workload is further reduced, so they can see the progress they are making on their patch, and in turn we can now see their effort is being rewarded as our arrears fall.”
Not only have Wandle’s arrears fallen by £117,800, in just eight months of having RentSense, but they are already ahead of their target for their overall arrears performance, and they are one of the best performers in their peer group.
When asked if they would recommend RentSense to other organisations both Jackie and Martin agree.
“RentSense has helped the income team address the right cases and support those customers that need help whilst improving performance and mitigating Universal Credit,” explains Martin.
“Both operationally and strategically RentSense has really helped Wandle, and it is helping us deliver better services to our residents,” comments Jackie.