From: Judith Comber, Information systems analyst, Radian Group
Sir – It was with great trepidation that I read the article ‘Welfare Reform – Taking credit where it’s due’ in September’s edition of Housing Technology. Having worked in the housing sector for ten years, these reforms represent one of the most wide-reaching and most problematic changes for social landlords that I have seen.
I understand the government’s desire to ensure people from all social backgrounds are given the opportunity to govern their own finances but with approximately 62 per cent of households in the social housing sector receiving some form of housing benefit and 29 per cent of households being deemed ‘economically inactive’, the implications for housing providers are immense.
This is not just measurable in terms of the logistics of how and when rent payments will be made but also the increased pressure that some of our residents will be under. As they undertake new responsibilities for their own finances, many will require extra support from both their housing provider and other agencies and this must not be forgotten when IT strategy is being developed.
There has been much debate regarding the software and IT staff required for such radical changes but those on the frontline of housing and customer service will also have a demanding period ahead as they get to grips with not only the legislative changes but also the increased support that will inevitably be needed.
As an IT systems analyst and a former customer service advisor, I am looking forward to producing innovative and workable solutions to help manage the changes brought by universal credit.
I believe that by ensuring there is a balance between deliverable systems which help to limit arrears and practical solutions that do not overwhelm our residents, we will succeed in these challenging times ahead.