New research into the impact of Universal Credit has given insight into how claimants are managing their money, and the impact that this is having on housing associations and local authorities as they increase workloads in order to support their tenants.
The latest figures released by the National Audit Office found that over a third of Universal Credit claimants were in arrears with their housing payments, and for nearly 45%, the situation had worsened by the time they had been claiming for around 8 months. As a result of this, housing organisations are facing huge increases in their workloads, with many even recruiting more staff to keep up with the demand. In fact, a recent survey by Orchard found that over 80% of organisations believe they face either a significant or huge increase in workloads following Universal Credit going live in their area. It is key that organisations have an efficient system in place, that works to maximise income and increase the likelihood of on-time payments.
The vast majority of Universal Credit claimants use the internet, with around 98 percent stating that they have regular internet access. However, only around half were able to claim online without any assistance, suggesting a demand for self-service digital solutions that are user friendly and efficient to prevent a surge in contacts through other channels such as telephone and social media.
Providing support and guidance for tenants to help them manage their finances has never been more important. In fact, a recent study by the Chartered Institute of Housing found that almost all housing providers intend to develop their digital services in some way, with several varying approaches to channel shift. This ranges from introducing digital services as an optional choice, to removing certain communication channels to move tenants towards digital as quickly as possible. Whichever way an organisation chooses to implement and promote their digital services, the priority is maintaining a high-quality, efficient service for tenants at all times.
To find out how Orchard can help you to provide high-quality digital services for your organisation and customers, sustain tenancies and proactively manage your income, visit our Income Analytics and Housing Management pages.