Following today’s post by the Chartered Institute of Housing “Five ways to help your tenants with the roll-out of universal credit” we thought we'd add in our top tips for communicating the changes to your tenants.
The introduction of universal credit has been underway now for a number of months, with increasing rollout to all arms of public services and benefits.
The advice below is now more useful than ever, because to the "full service" version of universal credit, already a fact of life for many, is now on the horizon for many more.
Communicating the changes to your tenants
The second thing we usually see after the words “universal credit” are: arrears or late payments.
It is vital that the well-attested wait for funds of up to six weeks is communicated to your tenants.
In order to communicate this as effectively as possible, we have a number of suggestions:
- Make the most of your portal: Set welcome messages and push notifications, notifying tenants of changes. You can even add some text to the portal home page.
- Website: The possibilities are endless: from a dedicated section of your website, to text on the home page and downloadable documents, you can provide tenants with as much information as you feel is necessary.
- Social media: A short, simple post, a couple of times a week will reach a wide audience. You can link the social media posts directly to you web content, or even advise tenants to log in to the portal for further info.
- Phone system: Update your out-of-office or hold music with advice on universal credit; short snippets directing tenants to your website/portal.
- Email signatures: Never underestimate the power of email signatures—think how many tenants your customer service team interact with in a given period via email.
- SMS: Push SMS messages, directing tenants to universal credit resources—even if many tenants are not “online” they will have a mobile device capable of receiving text messages.
What’s working for you?
Get in touch with us and share your ideas—tell us what’s working for your organisation so we can pass on the advice and help others.
You’ve established howto contact tenants, now you need to think about what your messaging is going to say:
- Educate: Explain to tenants exactly what universal credit is, how it will affect them, and the expected time until the changes.
- Inform: Inform tenants, well ahead of time, of any actions that are required, and what impact universal credit will have on their income—changes in payment dates or amounts.
- Create a safety net: Advise tenants to start saving in order to build up a safety net. As difficult as it may be, this will help in the short term if there are any delays in the claims process.
- Advance payments: If your tenants are really struggling, make them aware of advance payments. This can fill the income shortfall if claims are taking too long.
Finally, remember that the relationship between your customer service teams and tenants is critical—now, more than ever before.
So, ensure that staff and tenants have all the knowledge and every tool at their disposal, ensuring the transition to universal credit is as seamless as possible.