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1 Rent Collection & Income Management Linda Ellen Head of Housing Management 31 st October 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Rent Collection & Income Management Linda Ellen Head of Housing Management 31 st October 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Rent Collection & Income Management Linda Ellen Head of Housing Management 31 st October 2012

2 2 Background Income collectable from rent c.£50 million pa This pays for all the services we deliver to our tenants Collection is key priority Support customers to enable them to pay rent We will evict

3 3 Local standards – rent income Income collection –We will collect the rent due to us. Preventing arrears –We will prevent rent arrears by working with new tenants to make sure they are able to pay right from the start of their tenancy. Support –We will support tenants to enable them to pay their rent. Evictions –We will only evict for rent arrears as a last resort.

4 4 Improvements already identified Improvement to the service over past 12 months:- –Arrears patches reviewed –More time allocated to this area of work –Personal contact made with customers –More appointments carried out in peoples homes –Detailed financial assessments carried out with customers –Referrals made to CAB and Shelter for debt advice –Support provided where necessary –Monthly meetings with Area Managers & Head of Service –Where performance has been an issue action taken

5 5 Debt (at 30/09/12) Current tenants £2,596,462 Shared owners£ 42,498 Former tenants£1,010,798 Total£3,649,758 Increase of £399,415 since end March 2012

6 6 Current tenant debt

7 7 BVPI66a - % of rent collected 2007/0897.3% 2008/0997.8% 2009/1098.2% 2010/ % 2011/ % (target 98.5%) 2012/ % at quarter 2 (year end target 97.30%) Benchmarking with Housemark against other stock retaining councils: /11 – median of 98.43% (sample of 24) /12 - median of 98.42% (sample of 11)

8 8 Contributory factors External factors around the economy –Unemployment rises –Increase in those in and out of work –High levels of tenants on HB –More customers facing difficult circumstances Changes in benefits –Delays in processing –Overpayments Staffing changes Pressures on floating support

9 9 On the Horizon Localism Welfare Reform –‘Bedroom tax’ –Benefits Cap –Universal Credit will replace existing benefits –Direct Payments Flexible tenancies and affordable rent Council Tax changes

10 10 Bedroom tax from April 2013 Rent restrictions for working age social housing tenants –1 spare bedroom = 14% reduction in rent allowed for HB (av £12pw) –2 spare bedrooms = 25% reduction (av £22 pw) –size criteria similar to that used for HB private sector claims –over accommodated = 1 or more spare bedrooms Extra Discretionary Housing Benefit (DHP) funding to be made available Government estimate 32% of all working age on housing benefit will be affected Those in work are affected if claiming any benefit

11 11 How many bedrooms? Allow for one bedroom for each of the following:- –Couple –Person aged 16 or over –2 children same sex under 16 –2 children under 10 – any sex –Any other child, –A carer providing overnight care Possible extra room for :- –Severely disabled child –Temporary absence (less than 52 weeks - e.g. away at University) No additional rooms allowed for:- –Foster child –Child whose main home is elsewhere

12 12 Example - size criteria restriction Couple with 2 teenage daughters living in a 3 bedroom house Rent is £80 per week Size criteria is 2 beds Pre April 2013 HB covers full rent of £80 Post April % reduction applies for having 1 extra room HB will drop by £11.20 a week to £68.80

13 13 Bedroom Tax – exemptions Exemptions –People who are pension credit age or whose partner has reached pension credit age –Shared ownership properties –Temporary accommodation ( used by the Council to prevent homelessness) –Mooring charges and mobile home or caravan site rents –Supported ‘Exempt’ accommodation. –Bail hostel or probation hostel

14 14 Options Move to a more suitable sized property Rent out a room –landlord agreement –lodger rules –tenancy restrictions Ask non-dependants to contribute more Review finances & make up shortfall from income Increase income to remove need for benefit help –employment Request DHP funding (short term)

15 15 Benefits cap from April 2013 Benefit Cap –Applies to all tenure types for working age claimants Maximum payable will be £500 pw for a couple. £350 pw for single adult Exemptions –Pensioners –War widows –Working households –Those who are disabled 9 month grace period for claimants who were in work for 52 weeks or more before the start of their claim. Housing Benefit eroded first

16 16 Example – Benefit Cap Couple with 4 children living in a council property JSA(IB) = £ Child Tax Credits= £ Child Benefit =£ Housing Benefit=£ Total Benefit= £ Cap = £ Potential Benefit loss = £58.48 HB reduced to £35.97 weekly (£94.45 minus £58.48 weekly)

17 17 Universal Credit - Oct 2013 to end 2017 Replaces –Income-based JSA, –Income-related ESA, –Income Support –Working Tax Credits, –Child Tax Credits and –Housing Benefit. Paid –Monthly –Single household payment –In arrears

18 18 April Council Tax Benefit abolished Detail –Replaced with Council Tax Support (CTS), –Administered by Local Authority –Rules for working ages are for LA to decide But –Total CTS spend will be less than CTB spend –Pensioners will not be worse off –Vulnerable must be protected –Should encourage people to work

19 19 Our focus Working with Benefits Service –Dept of Work and Pensions (DWP) –Identifying customers where there are likely to be difficulties Benefit Cap Bedroom Tax –Discretionary Housing Payment Housing Quality Network (HQN) review of practices –External ‘health check’ – August 2012 –HQN acting as a critical friend –Wide experience of other organisations –Report and recommendations received

20 20 HQN - Strengths Customer focussed Officers are enthusiastic and want to do the right thing Clear sense that evictions are viewed as failure Regular reviews are held with officers (case reviews) New tenant training programmes

21 21 HQN - Weaknesses Fragmented leadership Lack of in-house welfare / benefit advice expertise Some inconsistencies in case management Performance management needs strengthening Customer profiling is under developed Brand awareness improvements needed

22 22 HQN – Contributory factors Introduction of ATLAS –Leading to greater numbers of overpayments Delays in HB processing –Increase in the number of change of circumstances claims –Resources Court case delays Lack of a customer debt policy for the Council

23 23 Our response Addressing issues through a project approach Action plan has been drawn up Project Team – ‘Task Force’ put in place –Focus on reducing debt –Action recommendations from HQN –Consider options for service delivery post welfare reform Project Structure –Customer focus & access –Rent accounting & collection –Arrears management –Former tenant arrears –Housing benefit administration –Money management/benefit advice –Financial inclusion measures –VFM

24 24 What are we doing now? Task force focussing on individual patches Case reviews with staff Linking with benefits welfare reform project Increasing Awareness –Staff training –Customers Individual contact New tenants Resident involvement training/workshops Performance –Focus from ‘what is’ being done to ‘what isn’t’ and ‘how can we’ (e.g.) Broken arrangements Failed direct debits

25 25 What are we doing now? Strengthening links and expectations with partners –Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) –Benefits services Updating procedure and practice –Arrears management –New tenant processes & sign up Communication opportunities –Improving information for access and clarity Letters, texting, website, newsletters Culture –Non payment is not an option

26 26 Ideas for feedback Maximising Income –What should we prioritise? Budgeting training Employment opportunities Culture –What are the best ways of spreading the message? Non payment is not an option Incentives –Should we have these? Direct Debit Clear account end of tenancy Clear account at end of year

27 27 Ideas for feedback Evictions –Should we advertise these more? Rent statements –Sent quarterly to those who request. Send at least annually to all? Ways to pay or useful contacts? Website –What does it need? Awareness –What can you do to help spread the word?

28 28 Questions?

29 29 Annual Rent Review Linda Ellen Head of Housing Management

30 30 Annual review – 2013/14 Background –Local authorities generally set their rents in accordance with the rent restructuring framework introduced in 2002 intention that social landlords should offer similar rents for similar properties The rent formula –established by Government to gradually bring about this policy –actual rents moving towards a national formula (or target) rent Formula rents –Generally increased each year by retail price index (RPI) +0.5% (RPI is the Sept in the year preceding the start of the financial year).

31 31 Rent Increase – 2013/14 Protection –Government limits any rent increase no more than the rate of inflation plus 0.5% plus £2.00 per week. Preparation –Finance working on average increase now –Annual IT project is in place –Finance reports to Cabinet Dec/Jan –Tenant information issued February –Direct Debits amended March Improvements? –Can we do this better?


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