Arrears reduction in 12 monthsRead more
Fewer households in arrears
How has the cost of living impacted tenants and staff?
The cost of living has impacted everyone, although we have seen the main challenge for tenants has been utility bills. As a council we have been able to provide some support, in the form of discretionary grants and funding. We also combine a lot of data points to provide actionable insights on where to support tenants. Whilst we know that many families are struggling at Milton Keynes we have not seen the impact of this on our bottom line.
What challenges were you facing prior to working with your Income Maximisation Director (IMD) Nick Beasley?
The main issues were around the structure and skillset of the team which impacted performance. We wanted to embed a consistent approach and culture to income collection. We embarked on training staff and reviewing how we used our systems. Previously there had been a series of interim managers and as a result decisions were deferred. Now staff are empowered to make decisions and their approach has become unified.
How did IMD work with you, and how did you decide on your objectives for the service?
I knew what I felt needed to be addressed in training and building confidence within the team. Nick Beasley (the Mobysoft Income Maximisation Director) was very good at challenging us in a constructive way.
Nick’s approach was very much hands on, meeting and involving the team, which was so important, as it got their buy in to the project. He worked with them to understand their challenges operationally.
We looked at working with team on some key objectives and what they would be performance managed on. Central to this was case completions and arrears performance. We also introduced some engagement objectives for officers, such as calls made, Direct Debits set up, successful contact calls and so on. This fostered healthy competition within the team as well, which again helped improve performance.
Were the officers involved with the Income Maximisation service and what were their thoughts and feedback on it?
The hands on approach was really well received. The team contacted Nick with any issues they had whether about approach or on RentSense. He was quick to respond and gave really clear and concise advice and responses. His understanding of income collection and RentSense was incredibly insightful.
For me from a management point of view, having that other person there to support the re-focus on training and embedding that consistent approach has been really useful.
How has the service helped Milton Keynes Council?
The service and RentSense have really helped support the team who in turn have achieved some fantastic results.
From the outset we wanted to improve our caseload completion and this has risen from around 70% to a consistent rate of between 90% and 100% each week. As a result our average caseload has dropped from 1,900 to 1,600 per week. The high level of completions has also meant that the report that flags cases that been recommended for three successive weeks but not been actioned has gone from highlighting around 300 to 0.
We have also reduced our high level arrears cases, of over £2,000 which are our biggest cohort of debt. They have fallen by 100 cases, and this has been achieved through support (not enforcement).
The effect of all this hard work has meant since February 2022 until the end January 2023 we have 355 fewer households in debt. Our arrears have dropped by £414,882 in twelve months to £2.8M (a reduction of 12.8%). We have also been able to reduce our bad debt provisions as well, as performance is better than forecast, and we expect our arrears to be lower this year than last. We have been able to release an additional £100,000 into the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) due to the bad debt reduction.Leona Evans, Milton Keynes Council
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