Universal Credit has suffered another setback as it was reported that a further £3 billion has been spent on the rollout, thanks largely to disposable IT projects, which now is expected to be completed by 2020, a year later than planned.
Despite the delays, public sector payments specialist Allpay has warned that this shouldn’t stop housing providers preparing for the rollout, ensuring they offer a wide range of payment choice and flexibility to support tenants and help to secure their rental income.
Ross Macmillan, head of research and market intelligence, Allpay, said, “Some housing providers are ahead of the game in terms of offering greater choice and flexibility for universal credit, while others are still relying on limited and rigid payment options. For example, it’s staggering the number of housing providers that still relying on posting out paper mandates to set up direct debits. Those using paperless systems can set up instructions over the phone with tenants in minutes.
“Housing providers should consider adopting ‘any day’ collection dates for direct debits. This flexibility not only improves the attractiveness of direct debits to tenants but also means that rent can be guaranteed and missed payments minimised as the rent can be debited as close to the universal credit payment date as possible.
“Ensuring residents have multiple ways to pay, such as via a text message or through a smartphone app, will also be important. For example, in some cases, smartphone payments accounted for around four per cent of a housing provider’s transactions. That’s a significant figure in a sector where large numbers of tenants still prefer to budget in cash.”