Nudge, nudge: Orbit reward scheme cuts rent arrears by 500k
Published by Brian Church for 24dash.com in Housing
Orbit Heart of England says its resident reward scheme, ProPoints, has helped reduce rent arrears by around half a million pounds. Launched in 2010, it is now being used to prepare for welfare reforms.
"We have been astounded by the success of our welfare reform campaign," said Lee Steele, head of operations at Orbit Heart of England. "ProPoints has enabled us to build a culture of responsibility amongst our customers, taking ownership not only of their rent payment but also making sure their benefits are paid on time."
In a recent campaign, customers who start to plan for changes to how their benefits are paid are rewarded with ProPoints. Over a fortnight, 500 customers signed up to pay by direct debit. Half are on full housing benefit, with nothing currently to pay, but they wanted to start putting money away in their rent account to prepare for when their benefit is paid to them monthly in arrears.
"We have found that many are receptive to some very difficult messages that we have to deliver around welfare reform," Steele said. "We’ve built a solid platform which rewards our customers for positive behaviour, in line with current thinking around the nudge theory."
The scheme works by rewarding customers with ProPoints each month as long as they do not deviate from the terms of their tenancy agreement. This includes ensuring that they keep their rent account clear at all times, let contractors in to undertake gas servicing and are not involved in anti-social behaviour. These ProPoints can be exchanged for shopping vouchers that can be spent in over 20,000 UK outlets.