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How Curo triages support to help customers onto Universal Credit

As one of the first areas to go full-service with Universal Credit, Curo adopted a triage approach to helping their most at-risk customers first. This outward facing strategy means they spend 80% of their time with 20% of their customers.

In this webinar we look at Curo’s story with Emma Owens, Head of Customer Accounts, and hear how this housing provider uses Policy in Practice’s Benefit and Budgeting Calculator to help manage this process and effectively maximise staff time. The tool’s self-serve feature encourages customers who need less help to begin the process independently, allowing staff to focus their support on those customers who need more support.

“Policy in Practice’s Benefit and Budgeting Calculator has saved us considerable time and allowed us to do the thing that we do best and that’s to give the support to the most vulnerable people to keep them in their home, which is our ultimate goal.”

Emma Owens, (Acting) Head of Lettings, Curo

To find out more visit, email or call 0330 088 9242.

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How Curo triages support to help customers onto Universal Credit

  1. 1. Policy in Practice Webinar How Curo triages support to help customers onto Universal Credit Tuesday 9 July 2019
  2. 2. Housekeeping • Audio check • Please ask questions • Poll and a survey • Aim to finish by 16:00
  3. 3. Today’s speakers Zoe Charlesworth Head of Policy Policy in Practice Emma Owens (Acting) Head of Lettings Curo Louise Murphy Policy and Operations Analyst Policy in Practice
  4. 4. Agenda • What is triage and how do we do it? • Universal Credit and Curo • Key lessons and challenges • What Curo’s UC tenants are saying • How impactful is triaging support? • Software that can help
  5. 5. 555 Over to Zoe
  6. 6. Triage Oxford dictionary: • (in medical use) the assignment of degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order of treatment of a large number of patients or casualties. • The process of determining the most important people or things from amongst a large number that require attention. Supporting low-income households • Determining who needs support, how urgent that support is, and how it can be delivered.
  7. 7. Triage for low-income households In general, this is undertaken: • On an ongoing basis e.g. at Housing Association lettings • In response to change e.g. roll-out of Universal Credit • Strategically through examination of low-income data The process is: • Identification • Target • Engagement • Support • Track intervention
  8. 8. Strategic triage through data analysis The future of supporting low-income households Local authority data + data analytics LIFT dashboard Benefits Calculator Identify Engage Target Support Track 8
  9. 9. Identify households likely to be affected 9
  10. 10. Target those who will need support E.g. Households with children and those with low financial resilience. This reduces the 1,272 self-employed households to 317 10
  11. 11. Who to target? Dependant on organisational requirements e.g: 1. To protect rents: • Tenants with arrears and no monthly income and no savings • Self-employed with no savings 2. Homelessness prevention: • Private tenants with no non non-dependants, savings or monthly earnings 3. Households that may struggle under UC: • those losing ESA disability premiums, self-employed • Those that will struggle with claim processes and benefit delay
  12. 12. Engage Inform (and illustrate) income under Universal Credit initially and after 12 months In this case, a reduction of £316/month in household income 12
  13. 13. Support If relevant, provide employment support 13
  14. 14. How is support delivered? • Self-service tools Simple and easy to use Easily accessible Engaging • Support tools Benefits calculator Advice and support Better use of scarce resources and expertise
  15. 15. Some final thoughts … • UC managed migration has not yet started • Transitional protection will end as changes of circumstances occur • Supported and temporary accommodation • Welfare reform is still ongoing e.g. impact of two-child limit • Mitigation and support measures need to be ongoing, not just for the initial transition “Data is already used to detect fraud and chase arrears, so why not use it to help citizens?” Sue Nelson, Social Interest Group, formerly at Luton Borough Council If you know who needs support in advance you can seek to avoid crisis
  16. 16. Universal Credit roadmap
  17. 17. 171717 Poll: How is Universal Credit doing?
  18. 18. Housekeeping • Audio check • Please ask questions • Poll and a survey • Aim to finish by 16:00
  19. 19. 191919 Over to Emma
  20. 20. Webinar: How Curo triages support to help customers onto Universal Credit Emma Owens – Head of Customer Accounts @EOwensCuro
  21. 21. Putting you in the picture: UC and Curo • Curo were an early adopter of UC – we had Live service in Feb 2014 • We launched Full Service on 26th May 2016 • As it stands we have 2581 UC claimants • End ofv March 2019 – UC arrears were 6.38% (gross), Non UC 1.32% (net)
  22. 22. What we didn’t know back then…. • When we would go ‘full service’ • What the resource requirement would be • The real impact on our customers • How often things would go wrong • How many new claimants we would have, and how quick this would happen • The true impact on our rent arrears • If we would really be able to get direct payments….and if not would customers pay?
  23. 23. Number of new UC claims since May 16’ Average of 96 new cases per month in yr 1 (55 in yr 2) c.40% of working age customers in FS area onto UC in 18 months 231 286 391 469 566 692 782 865 983 1096 1190 1277 1341 1403 1459 1485 1542 1589 1655 1680 1750 1801 1826 1867 1901 1954 2031 2118 2140 2196 2263 2317 2371 2426 2463 2523 2581 0 55 105 78 97 126 90 83 118113 94 87 64 62 56 26 57 47 66 25 70 51 25 41 34 53 77 87 22 56 67 54 54 55 55 60 58 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 May-16 Jun-16 Jul-16 Aug-16 Sep-16 Oct-16 Nov-16 Dec-16 Jan-17 Feb-17 Mar-17 Apr-17 May-17 Jun-17 Jul-17 Aug-17 Sep-17 Oct-17 Nov-17 Dec-17 Jan-18 Feb-18 Mar-18 Apr-18 May-18 Jun-18 Jul-18 Aug-18 Sep-18 Oct-18 Nov-18 Dec-18 Jan-19 Feb-19 Mar-19 Apr-19 May-19 NumberofClaims Month Series1 Series2 Series3 Series4
  24. 24. Engagement & Attitude • Our team were galvanised by the desire to make a difference, supporting customers through UC whilst lobbying to change what wasn’t working • We have let numbers and customers do the talking for us – quickly realising if we approached the DWP in the wrong way, we would get nowhere • We survey our UC customers at least once every 2 years Met with DWP a – strategic landlord groups, managed migration workshops, visit from DWP and NC himself Research with DWP – now gone national (published later this year) Original research instrumental in the HB run on Work with NHF on our survey Met with ministers
  25. 25. Biggest challenges for customers • Perception – negative press / narrative, social media, all play a part. 17% answered ‘other’ when asked why they delayed claiming, and the narrative told us fear factor played a huge part in this • Deductions – 70% tell us they cause financial hardship, and every • The wait for 1st payment • Impact on health and wellbeing – 100% of customers who told us deductions caused them financial hardship caused had an existing health condition worse, or a new one created with over 56% seeing their GP • Communication & Access to information – not being able to speak to someone, no replies to journal messages, and not being able to easily access info offline • Debt – 40% used a foodbank, 4% admit to using loan sharks
  26. 26. What our UC Customers have told us 25% delayed making their UC claim 40% delayed because they didn’t know what to do 80% claiming legacy benefits before UC 56% claimed UC due to a ‘life changing’ event 76% of those who left work did not leave with a months ‘FT’ salary 81% have access to broadband at home 40% needed to use a foodbank *Curo customer survey September 2017 & 2019 “I have a history of depression and all of the above impacted on my mental wellbeing” “ I struggled and contemplated suicide – I had to see my GP. I Really struggled” “Account Manager was wonderful and very supportive when I was unable to pay my rent due to financial hardship” “Once up and running its simple to use” “I had a very poor diet due to lack of money for food, my health got worse” “I have a degenerative spine which some days even stops me from cooking for my kids but because I could lift my arms high and bend over on the day they said I can work as many hours as a normal person and stopped my ESA”
  27. 27. The Worry effect…. 25% of customers are still telling us they delayed claiming 40% who delay claiming tell us it is because “they didn’t know what to do”
  28. 28. UC Advisors & Triage • 2 x Full time UC Advisors supporting those transitioning on to UC • Attempt a Triage with all claimants • Work closely with account managers • Attend appeals / tribunals and support mandatory reconsiderations • Work from Bath JCP 3 mornings a week, and once a month at Bristol 314 customers seen by us there 18-19 (avg 6 per week) • Currently Recruiting a Money Advisor to extend the support offer 85% of customers triaged, paid their rent with their first UC payment
  29. 29. Triage – what do we ask? • Managing the 5WW • Support/referral • Welfare support/DHP/Charity payment • Food • Banking • Debt management • Digital access and skills • Rent payments • Payment method • Budgeting • Arrears agreements • Do they need help with Mandatory Recon? • Appeals / Tribunals 45% identified as vulnerable – 25% with Mental Health Issues 89% had access to internet at home 37% already in debt at the start of the claim 31% have borrowed money since being on UC 15% would rely on family / friends to help with the 5 week wait
  30. 30. What difference is this all making? (2018/19) • 71% of all UC customers triaged • 75% of all UC customers not triaged paid their rent – no issues • 20% of customers identified they needed extra support with their benefits and budgeting • 314 customers supported at JCP • 441 customers triaged • 85% triaged paid their rent with their 1st UC payment or had APA in place • 54% of UC claimants owe us money (reduced from over 70% at start of roll out) • UC arrears continue to fall – 6.38% (peaked at 17%)
  31. 31. Why use benefit maximisation and budgeting tools? • Our account manager who uses the benefit calculator the most, had zero evictions on her patch last year and some of the lowest arrears • Supports customers with our move to a more digital offer, but also enables those who need extra to support to access it with us rather than need to be referred on • Simple to use and enabled us to upskill a lot of colleagues including our lettings team, and supported housing colleagues • UC calendar especially helpful for those with varying earnings / 4 weekly pay as we can identify the months where their UC will reduce enabling us to support customers to budget
  32. 32. A shift in the role of the rent collectors • Should we have been doing a lot of this already? Yes! UC has forced our hand, and this is a good thing • Trust – we have shifted from ‘old school’ income collecting to trusting that most people want to pay, and building support around them. We have been willing to wait for rent payments. • We have invested heavily in our colleagues resilience and motivation – and this has paid off • We have changed our approach to KPI’s and performance management • We lobby – but gather data and let our numbers and residents do the talking for us – hard to argue with fact • Worked with partners to offer the best support & we have been creative • Simple human kindness approach – listen to our customers and take a holistic approach – it is about tenancy sustainment UC Mantra! • Manage what you can control • Lobby on what you can influence • Be aware of the rest!
  33. 33. Thank you @EowensCuro
  34. 34. 343434 Over to Louise
  35. 35. How the BBC helps: self-service
  36. 36. How the BBC helps: advisors • Compare take-home income under the legacy benefits system to take-home income under Universal Credit • Scenarios: show how a change in circumstances (e.g. starting work, moving home) will affect a customer’s take-home income • Budgeting tool
  37. 37. Future developments • Learn from Curo and build triage process into the calculator • Let us know what would be most useful to you • BBC Steering Group, Thursday 25 July – please join us (registration link in webinar survey coming up shortly)
  38. 38. Questions and answers
  39. 39. Next steps Download Curo case study Download Benefit and Budgeting flyer Download Universal Credit Roadmap Follow up email with this recording and slides, with links Short 5 question survey now: • We value your feedback • Ask questions or clarifications • Request your own look at the Benefit and Budgeting Calculator • Auto sign up to our next webinar: A data led approach to transforming councils on Wed 11 September at 10:30
  40. 40. Thank you Zoe Charlesworth Emma Owens Curo Louise Murphy office 0330 088 9242