Case Study: Wellingborough Homes
Wellingborough Homes are a stock transfer from the local council. They are based in the heart of Northamptonshire and own and manage around 4,500 properties.
HMS Missed Cases Added: 600 (worth £500,000)
Daily Processing: 8.5% caseload reduction
Arrears Saving: £76,353
Before RentSense, and like many social landlords, Wellingborough Homes used their Housing Management System (HMS) to flag and create their officers’ caseload. However, at the same time their arrears were steadily rising and as an organisation they were keen to improve performance and prepare themselves for on-going welfare reform, in particular Universal Credit.
They made a two-fold decision to help deliver these two objectives; the first was to invest in RentSense and the second was to launch a specialist income team, rather than having generic housing officers.
“It was about targeting our resources correctly, as we wanted more focus on arrears,” explains Dave Lockerman, Head of Housing and Support Services at Wellingborough Homes.
The decision to deploy RentSense was made following a Mobysoft consultancy day. This entailed a social housing consultant spending time with the income team analysing how they spent their time, such as analysing cases and working on cases. Often this analysis illustrates the inefficiencies with a landlord’s HMS caseload, from which Mobysoft is able to project, typically with great accuracy, what sort of caseload reduction a landlord can expect to gain when they deploy RentSense.
At the time Wellingborough’s weekly HMS caseload was 1308 recommendations. Mobysoft’s business case predicted RentSense would remove 600 of these cases. What happened next was unusual, in that Mobysoft was recommending a similar number of cases as the HMS.
“This was frustrating,” explains Dave. “We expected a much-reduced caseload to give the officers more time.”
Mobysoft worked with Wellingborough Homes to tweak the rule settings in RentSense to improve its performance. The officers’ caseload was further analysed and RentSense was removing over 400 cases, albeit just shy of the business case projection, but it was also adding in over 600 cases that the HMS was missing.
“Now we get around the same level of recs as we would with our HMS, but half of those are missed by our HMS and they worth over £500,000 in rent. So it (RentSense) gets us focused on the right cases and cases that were going to slip through the net. Officers are also spending less time analysing these cases as they trust the recommendations and they don’t have to go through and check each case.”
The initial set back to the project also highlighted something else to Wellingborough, and that was the level of service they received from Mobysoft.
“The service Mobysoft offer is unique and very hands on. We have regular diagnostic meetings to measure our performance against target (from the original business case). With other software providers, you buy it and that’s it, but with Mobysoft we regularly meet (with their Client Success Consultant and Account Director) and make sure it is working for us to getting us where we need to be,” explains Dave.
This approach is true for every customer, as each organisation has an allotted client success consultant and account director, and their main role is to validate the original business case and to help the client meet their targets.
To help minimise case recommendations Wellingborough also started using Daily Processing. This is an additional RentSense module, that audit tenants’ payments daily, rather than weekly, removing further cases throughout the week. For Wellingborough Daily Processing is removing a further 112 cases on average each week, which represents a 8.5% reduction in overall caseload.
RentSense has enabled the income team to trust their recommended cases each week, which in turn means they are not spending the time analysing each case. This has helped enable them to complete their weekly caseload, as Dave explains:
“Officers are now completing their P1s, P2s and P3s on a weekly basis, which has helped improve performance.”
RentSense has also helped improve performance management. Beforehand their HMS had limited management insight, there was no visibility to see if officers were completing cases and which cases they were focusing on”
“Whereas now in RentSense we can see quite clearly what our officers are doing and that’s hugely important,” comments Dave.
Mitigating Universal Credit
Wellingborough have had limited impact of Universal Credit thus far, with just 28 cases. But part of the investment into RentSense was to enable them to prepare for the roll out of the new benefit, as Dave explains:
“RentSense helps by getting us to focus on the cases that need our attention. Because we are looking at the right cases that releases some capacity to spend a bit more time on those cases that need it. And secondly because of the algorithm, in RentSense, it will know when people get their payment and will only flag up those cases that you need to look at. This is hugely important as UC payments will be expected at different times, unlike housing benefit, so knowing when a payment is missed is critical.”
Rent Arrears Falling
Wellingborough’s performance since investing in RentSense has steadily improved, they have reduced their arrears from 3.4% down to 3.01%, as of April 2017, which has saved them £76,353.
“The investment has certainly made a difference,” comments Dave. “It’s an easy system to use and staff like it and see the benefit of it, and it has helped us improve performance and ready ourselves for Universal Credit.”