The Wrekin Housing Group operates throughout Shropshire, Staffordshire and Telford & Wrekin, where a large team of officers manage lettings for around 1,100 homes per year. Social impact drives the organisation and the team pride themselves on making a difference to their residents’ lives by channelling social investment to maximise the social value of their services and deliver wider community benefits.
Building sustainable tenancies
Kylie Anderson, Sustainable Lettings Manager at Wrekin Housing Group is responsible for the organisation’s lettings system and processes and for ensuring, above all, that their tenancies are sustainable. To support Wrekin’s lettings work, they implemented the MRI Safestart solution in 2019 which enables Pre-Tenancy Financial Assessments (PTFAs) to be carried out ahead of any prospective tenancy.
The Lettings Team at Wrekin, “Carry out a number of checks pre-tenancy and this incudes financial checks, which have helped us with our focus on improving sustainable tenancies. PTFAs are an important part of our pre-tenancy assessment process. They help us flag up any affordability issues and need for support at an early stage. This allows us to work more proactively and support applicants early.”
The Safestart solution validates the applicant, giving the lettings team at Wrekin the full picture ahead of a tenancy commencing. This ensures Wrekin can create sustainable tenancies for their residents. “The reports show the financial health of a person, including levels of debt, CCJs and an easy-to-understand risk score, all of which help us to make informed decisions to support our applicants before offering them a home. They allow us to have the right conversations early.
“We have a Money Matters Team, Tenancy Sustainment Teams and a Debt Advice Team who can assist with any issues which are identified on the reports.”
In one instance, “A new applicant, Mr X recently told us that he had no outstanding debt when applying for housing with us. By using the Safestart report we were able to see that he did in fact have significant credit card bills, which would no doubt have impacted his ability to pay the rent. With this information to hand, our Housing Team were able to have an honest conversation with Mr X and work with him on a payment plan that would be affordable to him and acceptable to us.”
Service continuity during Covid
When the pandemic hit the UK in March 2020, many industries were forced to move to a work from home model, Wrekin Housing Group included. Whilst many services up and down the country were disrupted with this unprecedented shift, Wrekin’s existing working practices ensured continuity.
Kylie describes Safestart’s part in this: “Safestart being an online service has meant that staff always have easy access to the reports. We haven’t experienced any disruption during Covid and teams working remotely, which has meant our service has been uninterrupted during lockdown.”
An essential solution
The Safestart solution is very easy to implement and support is always on hand. Having worked with the system for a number of years, Kylie describes how now, “The reports are embedded in our internal process and offer us great value for money.”
Working with MRI has been for Kylie and the Lettings team, “Excellent; they have responded really quickly to any questions and been very helpful working together, delivering training sessions to help us use the system more effectively.
“MRI’s Pre-Tenancy Financial Assessments are a crucial part of our lettings business – we wouldn’t be with it!”