"£1.9 Million arrears reduction over 14 months & positive transformation of welfare reform and rent arrears audits over a 3 month period"
Richard was set the challenge of turning round a poorly performing rent arrears service for a large Housing Association as part of a corporate turnaround programme, with improving arrears performance being seen as vital to achieve improved governance and viability ratings. This was with the backdrop of addressing the challenges the new Welfare Reforms were also placing upon the organisation.
He inherited an exceptionally poor performing rent arrears service, with arrears standing at 7.24%, little or no process and quality assurance in place and a lack of performance management culture.
He quickly initiated a "back to basics" approach, implementing a new arrears process, supported by a performance management framework and a new approach to manipulating information out of a redundant ICT system in order to target activity to achieve the greatest impact. Within 4 weeks the continuing trend of increasing arrears had slowed and after another 3 weeks the arrears started to reduce, a trend that continued up to Richard leaving the role 12 months later.
This was supported with a commercial approach to debt recovery, utilising private sector techniques to test new approaches to arrears and contact management, whilst ensuring practices remained ethical. These included:
During this period two internal audits of arrears were undertaken, the first giving the service a "no assurance" rating, but within four months Richard had improved this assurance rating, all with the backdrop of the ongoing welfare reforms, which also received a positive bill of health via internal audit.
Richard soon realised that there was a wealth of talent and innovation within the team itself, which hadn't previously been nurtured. He engaged with them through a service improvement planning process, enabling them to "own" the improvements and act as change agents, recognising and rewarding this along the way.
Richard chaired the Welfare Reform Response Group, transforming the organisational approach by taking a very proactive approach to understanding the customers' needs and aspirations, and directing them to appropriate support services, whilst also testing new approaches to help customers manage their finances independently.
Richard also established a financial inclusion team and outcome based performance framework to ensure their work was having the desired effect.