The impact of Universal Credit on social landlords has prompted Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH) to invest in Mobysoft’s predictive analytical software tool called RentSense.
Social landlords, like NPH, can expect a 400% increase in costs of managing direct payments from tenants* switching from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit (UC). NPH is an arm’s length management organisation (ALMO) and manages Northampton Borough Council’s 11,843 properties.
“The impact of welfare reform and specifically the implementation of Universal Credit meant that it was important we were making the best use of our available resources to manage rent income.”
Explained Peter Haytack, Head of Income and Rent Accounting, at Northampton Partnership Homes.
There has been extensive research into the effects of UC on social landlords and tenants and one such study found that UC tenants need three times more contact than those not on Universal Credit, but at a time when social landlords in England are having to cut rent by 1%, organisations don’t have the luxury of surplus budgets to increase headcount to mitigate UC.
“It was clear that through UC the numbers of rent cases requiring attention would rise and also many of these would require more intensive levels of management. We needed to build capacity within the team to be able to undertake this additional work and RentSense provides an opportunity to make efficiency gains in our day to day operation.”
The ability to implement a cloud based application in a matter of weeks was key for NPH as they were keen to create immediate efficiencies as in November last year Northampton Council began its first staged deployment of Universal Credit.
“RentSense provided us with an off the shelf solution that could be deployed within a relatively short timescale and provided the potential to make efficiency gains.”
* From a research pilot carried out by City West Housing Trust