Universal Credit: Is it universally catastrophic?
The introduction of Universal Credit doesn’t have to be universally catastrophic for housing associations or their tenants, but process changes to deal with it within housing associations are inevitable and tools that help to predict problems before they occur are coming to the fore.
Universal Credit has brought a degree of uncertainty in rental payments across social housing estates. Where payments were previously made directly by the local authority to the social landlord, the payments are now made to the tenants who must ensure that their rent is paid to the housing association. This requires a greater degree of tenant support and help from housing associations and a greater need to be proactive to prevent tenants falling into arrears.
So what can housing associations do?
The obvious fix is to take a proactive approach and prevent payments falling into arrears before it happens. It sounds easy of course, but housing management technology – predictive analytics – is providing the ability to look at trends in payment data in order to do just that. ActiveH Pro Active Arrears looks at a tenant’s method of payment and is able to instantly see how many weeks’ arrears may exist and flag up early warning signs. Where tenants may default for longer, data can be categorised into those that may require alternative payment arrangements in order to help them going forward. Additionally the system flags up the issue without any need for a user or team to run a report and determine the situation for themselves. It delivers a 360 degree view of the tenant and their circumstances and evaluates where to put emphasis across the estate so that time is spent where tenants require help the most.
The ActiveH Pro Active Arrears solution is able to help social landlords predict and eliminate risk and help protect revenue streams more accurately and deliver efficiency and cost efficiency benefits to the housing association – reducing arrears. With the ability to be proactive, housing associations can mitigate the issues that welfare reform causes, and protect revenue streams. It also delivers a way to invest time and effort into the issues that can be solved before they even occur. For the tenant, it means they won’t worry about falling behind in rental payments – working closely with the housing association. So Universal Credit needn’t be catastrophic for either the housing association or the tenant.