Case Study: Sovereign
Sovereign merged with Spectrum in 2016 to form Sovereign Housing Group, a social landlord with close to 60,000 stock in the South and South West of England. Prior to that merger Sovereign was made up of the following social landlords, Sovereign, Vale Housing, Twynham and Kingfisher.
Overall Caseload Reduction: 52%
Daily Processing Caseload Reduction: 11%
Arrears Reduction: £500,000 (2015/16)
Prior to deploying RentSense, Sovereign consisted of four different organisations, all using separate Housing Management Systems (HMS). Sovereign was keen to free up resource of the income teams to enable them to focus on the right cases and address their caseloads.
“We (Sovereign) were keen to adopt a unified approach to income collection across the four teams. From a management perspective this was important not only because of the potential impact of welfare reform on revenues but we also wanted to create a single entity and culture across what was four different organisations,” explains Luke Bingham.
Sovereign was keen to investigate RentSense further, especially as the solution was able to work across four different disparate HMS systems whilst giving management live visibility throughout all organisations. The decision was made to invest in RentSense, as it was believed that it would create capacity within the income function and prioritise the caseload correctly and accurately. When it came to deployment RentSense was rolled out without a hitch.
The Impact of RentSense
The effects of RentSense on Sovereign were immediate, in that across four different teams it simplified the process of collecting rent.
“RentSense took away the clutter,” explains Luke. “It substantially reduced the caseload which had a number of key effects. This meant that officers could start getting through their caseload, and as it was accurate they were not wasting time checking records. These things both created capacity within the team.”
There were other effects of using RentSense that impacted on the organisation, as Luke explains.
“The income teams were now focused on risk rather than volume. So, they were addressing their workload in priority order and at the right time. This also helped improve the resilience of the income teams as well. They now realised their efforts were producing the right results and each contact counted.”
By deploying RentSense it also meant that teams had visibility of one another’s workload. Sovereign worked with Mobysoft to develop reporting across the organisation that offered management greater insight into the teams and individuals’ performance.
“RentSense helped contribute to unify the cultures within the income teams. Teams could work regionally and across offices with RentSense, and it helped facilitate the same ethos across the teams,” commented Luke.
The Impact of Welfare Reform
Sovereign looked to review and research what the impact of Universal Credit would be, however they found a lot of conflicting data, so they began to collect and collate their own information and build up a picture of the potential impact.
Sovereign also made the decision that as an organisation they would treat welfare reform, such as the benefit cap and Universal Credit, as business as usual as the response had to be sustainable and not just focussed on the short term.
“We took the approach that welfare reform would become the norm therefore we reviewed our processes and systems and realigned those with our support services,” comments Luke.
One of the effects of Universal Credit is that residents can pay their rent any day of the month, unlike Housing Benefit which usually clears the same time each week, fortnight or four weeks. Sovereign also invested in RentSense’s Daily Processing, which processes each tenancy every day, rather than weekly, and captures those UC payments.
Daily Processing Mitigating Universal Credit
“This (Daily Processing) helps prevent the income team contacting people who have paid earlier in the week and it further reduces the RentSense caseload by around 11% each week, and ensures we are not wasting resource” explains Luke.
The focus for Sovereign is creating relationships with their residents.
“We want to support them and make it easy to pay their rent. So, when they receive their UC they want to pay us. If they don’t we need to move quickly and RentSense has helped identify debt and do just that, so we are catching debt at its earliest stage. RentSense has helped create resource and resilience over the last couple of years and freed up capacity to deal with welfare reform.”
The Benefits of RentSense
Since using RentSense Sovereign’s arrears have fallen year on year, indeed in 2015/16 RentSense helped them collect £500,000 more in rent. Since then they have merged with Spectrum (who also used RentSense) and have grown from a 38,000 strong landlord to one that has almost 60,000 stock, and arrears are still incredibly low, especially for an organisation of that size, at just 1.93%, as of year-end 2016/17. Moreover, today the solution is delivering a 52% caseload reduction compared to what the HMS is recommending across the group.
Partnership with Mobysoft
When asked about working with Mobysoft, Luke explains how they see both organisations as working in partnership.
“From a management level the relationship with the Mobysoft account director is key. The sharing of data and insight, especially round the larger issues such as Universal Credit is incredibly valuable for us. Operationally the implementations have been great as has the training, and the team is proactive.”
When discussing RentSense and if Sovereign would recommend the system to other social landlords the response is unequivocal.
“I have, and do, recommend RentSense,” explains Luke. “There are many reasons for this, but from a strategic point of view, despite the fiscal environment and welfare reform Sovereign’s arrears have fallen year on year for five years and RentSense has been instrumental in helping us achieving that. It has also created efficiencies and capacity within Sovereign, so we are able to tackle welfare reform.”