2016 Annual Report

Income Management

In a year dominated by the challenges of the Welfare Benefit reforms, how did we do?

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Moira Hurley

Income Management Team Leader

In a year dominated by the challenges of the Welfare Benefit reforms, how did we do?

  • Current tenant debt is reduced
  • Sundry debt is reduced
  • Former tenant debt is reduced
  • Evictions were reduced
  • Many residents’ benefits were increased 

With our motto of ‘think commercially, act socially’ the Income Management Team are always striving to work with our customers to pay rents fully and on time. A secure home is vital for physical and mental well-being and whilst debt causes stress and instability, we seek to stabilise incomes and expenditure in order that people can manage budgets to afford to maintain payments and avoid the stress and emotional upset caused by debt. 

It is vital for the Association that rental income is maintained to pay for the business functions such as maintaining homes; however, the team is sensitive and understanding towards the difficulties that our customers may be experiencing and we work closely to find suitable and lasting solutions to avoiding debt. 

The team secured a total of £83,462.84 reduction in debt this year, for current tenant rent debt, maintenance recharges, court costs and former tenant debt. 

So How Did We Do Financially?

March 2015

March 2016

Annual Change

 

£231,217.13

£187,657.39

-£43,559.74

Current tenant arrears

3.50%

2.78%

-0.72%

% arrears

£28,382.68

£26,582.61

-£1,800.07

Sundry Debt

£153,057.55

£114,954.52

-£38,103.03

Former tenant debt

 

The Income Management Team likes to be proactive in its approach, always investigating improvements to its service and new ways of working. We therefore changed the team format last year and instead of team members having a particular area to manage, we looked at the level of debt instead of location and allocated team members to have a particular element of expertise to concentrate on. This resulted in a large reduction of all debts, better knowledge of those tenants with larger debts and greater satisfaction for team members. The Welfare Benefit Advisors worked closely with the Income Management Officers to increase incomes for those residents struggling to pay their rents or manage their finances. 

Reducing the debt to the Association has been achieved through working closely with our residents to find the best way to maintain payments and through this, we have reduced the number of evictions for non-payment of rent to only two during the year.

Our Welfare Benefit Advisor, Sandra Jones, decided to change to part-time working and the team was lucky to be joined by Judith Wareing as its other Welfare Benefit Advisor with her expertise in Welfare Benefits. During last year 493 residents were visited by the Welfare Benefit Advisors, obtaining a total of £364,400.96 in extra benefits for our tenants.

So what about the year ahead?

We continue to look at different ways of working to improve service, reduce debt and keep sustainable tenancies. The year ahead will hold many challenges as Universal Credit roll-out continues with residents having to wait five weeks for the initial payment and court costs are set to rise by 30% to £325 per case. The team will be concentrating on not only reducing current tenant debt, but also reducing debt on former tenant accounts, home-owner service charges and sundry debts. The payment of rent by Direct Debit will be promoted as the easiest way to pay rent and tenants will be encouraged to pay rent accounts on the day they are due. So there will be plenty of challenges, and always that £0 debt to the Association as the goal!

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