Saturday, 06 February 2016

Tenants offered shopping vouchers for timely rent

A midlands housing association is offering shopping vouchers as an incentive to tenants to prepare for welfare reform.

Orbit Group has expanded an existing scheme called Pro Points which rewards tenants for good behaviour and paying rent on time. The scheme, which Orbit says has reduced rent arrears by £500,000 since 2010, is now being used to encourage tenants to change the way they pay their rent.  

Under the scheme, tenants who set up direct debits or who put money aside to prepare for benefit being paid direct to them, are awarded Pro Points. These can be exchanged for shopping vouchers in around 20,000 different shops.

A spokesperson for Orbit subsidiary Orbit Heart of England said 500 customers signed up to pay by direct debit in a fortnight.

Lee Steele, head of operations at Orbit Heart of England, said: ‘We have found that many are receptive to some very difficult messages that we have to deliver around welfare reform.

‘We have built a solid platform which rewards our customers for positive behaviour.’

An Orbit spokesperson refused to answer questions about how widely the scheme is used, when it was expanded or how much it is costing the group to implement.

Under the government’s universal credit, which combines several benefits into one payment, tenants will no longer have the right to have their benefit for housing costs paid direct to their social landlord. Universal credit will be phased in from October this year.

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