01 January 2019
This report sets out research undertaken by the National Housing Federation into any changes that our members have made to pre-tenancy and income collection policies and processes in response to Universal Credit. We want to share the learnings from other housing associations regarding approaches they feel work when it comes to the new benefit system.
This research is based on interviews with 11 people from eight organisations. The sample was chosen from those who mentioned changes to their systems in our regular Universal Credit survey.
This report provides more background on the research before setting out key findings on pre-tenancy work, income collection, staffing and lessons learnt. Examples presented are not representative of the sector, but are provided to assist other organisations who may be facing similar issues.
The introduction of Universal Credit has led many housing associations to look at their income collection processes. Therefore, the National Housing Federation thought it was important to understand how the processes and procedures of income collection are changing.
Universal Credit has changed the way that many social housing tenants pay their rent. Most people receiving Universal Credit are responsible for paying rent directly to their landlord. For a number of reasons (including waiting for payment, existing rent arrears, and payment behaviour) the move to Universal Credit has resulted in an increase in rent arrears at the beginning of the claim period.
To find out what housing associations are doing, we interviewed 11 professionals from eight housing associations. We also held a session at a regional meeting of welfare professionals from housing associations. The housing associations who took part in the interviews were from different regions, sizes and types. At the time of the interviews, tenants paying with Universal Credit represented a small number of the interviewed housing association’s tenants (minimum 4% of tenancies, maximum 13%).
The top four lessons from housing associations were: