Case Study: Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust
Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust own around 7,500 homes and provides affordable housing for over 21,000 people living and working in Aylesbury and the surrounding villages of the Vale.
Caseload Reduction: 50.00%
Arrears Reduction: £65,000 in 1 month
Prior to RentSense Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust were generating a weekly report from their Housing Management System (HMS), but this was causing issues as the income team did not trust the accuracy of the list, some arrears letters were being generated and sent to tenants that were not in arrears. This prompted the income team to work through a list manually generated every four weeks, which in turn meant that some cases would be missed until the report was scheduled to run again. What’s more around half of the list required no action.
“We were working inefficiently, and it was not the best use of the officers’ time,” explains Liz Prankard, Income Manager at Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust (the Trust).
With Universal Credit on the horizon Liz was keen to free up time and get the officers focusing on just the cases that required action.
“When we go full-service we know that arrears will increase, and last year they had plateaued,” explains Liz.
“To work efficiently and combat the threat of rising arrears (through UC) we had to do something different, and that was why we started looking at RentSense.”
Moreover, the Trust’s income team not only wanted a more accurate caseload but they were keen to get arrears cases flagged at their earliest stage.
“By working on cases when arrears are at their minimum means we can try and help keep the tenants out of debt, and take a more supportive role. Being proactive minimises the levels of debt, rather than focusing on them when arrears are out of control,” explained Liz
The Trust are already aware of the additional time that Universal Credit cases take to manage. The welfare team are in position to offer further support to tenants and referrals for budgeting support, those residents who are claiming UC in Aylesbury the income team have seen they require a lot more contact.
From the outset Mobysoft worked closely with the Trust in understanding their processes and systems as well as the challenges facing the income function. The deployment and training process was both quick and seamless and required very little of their IT team’s time.
“They (Mobysoft) took the time to explain how RentSense works and were quick to respond to any queries. They also explained why some cases are flagged and others not, so we all understood and trusted the system,” comments Liz.
As with all system implementations there is a justified expectation that it should deliver a seamless return. However, what surprised many at the Trust was the immediacy of the return delivered.
“We wanted arrears as low as possible before full service Universal Credit is implemented in September (2018),” comments Liz.
“Within one month not only had our officers’ caseload been cut dramatically, but this enabled the team to lower arrears by £65,000. We were expecting to see the workload reduce, but not necessarily the arrears so quickly.”
There has been more than just a headline grabbing arrears reduction as well, with the income team able to manage their workload more effectively.
“The team are getting through 100% of their cases now every week, before RentSense this was unheard of. There have been several knock-on effects from this too. Obviously, arrears have fallen, but the officers have commented they have more job satisfaction, as they know they are not wasting time but they can see the results of their work,” highlights Liz.
“It has helped improve team morale, you can see that. What’s more with RentSense giving the team visibility of their patches has meant they help each other out with their workload, so if someone is out visiting or at court, the rest of the team work through their cases, they really work well together.”
With the income team solely focusing on cases they need to and not checking cases that require no action this has freed up capacity and time that has been put to good use.
“The team have been able to dedicate more time to home visits and it has also given them more capacity to deal with cases more thoroughly. So now all arrears’ letters at stage one and two have a supplementary phone, text and email, this is really helping drive down arrears,” explains Liz.
The predictive algorithms of RentSense are also helping flag cases at their earliest stage and even before tenants fall into arrears.
“It helps flag when housing benefit payments are missing or reduced so we get these before they become arrears cases, whereas before it may be four or five weeks before this was flagged.”