Following the budget announcements last week we welcomed the top level announcement on the additional support and funding for Universal Credit roll out. With 61% of customers in receipt of Universal Credit in arrears, Orbit have been actively looking at how we support customers and are successfully reducing levels of arrears. However, we know that the wider rollout will continue to put pressure on us as a business, and more importantly on our customers.
With these headlines it is easy to pass over the details. One of these such details was the Budget 2018 announcement to allow housing associations to refer to sources of affordable credit – with the government simplifying regulation to make it easier to direct tenants to alternatives to high-cost credit.
Many housing associations have either internal or external provision to support their customers with managing money, both when in difficulty as well as with longer term financial management. This announcement will provide clarity on our direct ability to support and signpost customers to affordable and responsible credit, but also provides a challenge to housing associations.
We need to be careful about what it is and how we provide this type of advice. We and our partners are trusted and have our customers financial wellbeing truly at the centre of our thinking, but it isn’t always that straightforward providing effective support. The devil is in the detail.
Orbit have been doing long term work with The Fairbanking Foundation, a charity focused on financial wellbeing, and we have learnt some key lessons.
- There is a critical gap between what individuals would like to do and what they manage to action
- The drivers for choice are often not the same when struggling with money management
- Too much choice doesn’t improve decision making
This has led us to some specific work, using The Fairbanking Foundation as an independent organisation to develop tools for customers and advisers in making both good decisions and in a way that promotes positive action. As part of #talkmoneyweek we are running a joint roundtable to share our learning up to now and bring in the views of interested experts and organisations to develop this work even more.
Read more about the partnership here including our latest whitepaper about taking financial wellbeing to the next level.