Nudging your way to reduced rent arrears

The ‘Nudging your way towards reduced rent arrears’ project launched in March 2015 to investigate new ways of improving income collection within the social housing sector.

It engaged ten social housing providers from around the country in a rigorous process of data analysis, insight gathering and intervention design. It culminated in the execution and analysis of nine randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and the sector’s first evidence-based guidance on the use of behavioural insights.

This report has been produced to share this experience and, more importantly, the evidence base that it has started to build, with a view to inspiring other housing providers to adopt similar approaches.


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"Interventions like Nudge show how the sector continues to find new ways to do old things; to disrupt existing patterns of work and introduce concepts and techniques from elsewhere. The outcomes from these studies show how social housing providers can make significant improvement to rent arrears management by using these behavioural insights and understanding better how tenants respond to messages and approaches. The participants should rightly get plaudits from the sector for their courage to try something new and, more impressively, to continue to develop and expand the use of behavioural insights within their organisations over the two years since the study started."

Jules Bickers, Capita Real Estate and Infrastructure

"L&Q joined the 'nudge' project as we recognised that with the advent of welfare reform the traditional approaches to collecting rent and managing arrears may no longer be appropriate, and behavioural insights had the potential to offer new tools and techniques to deal with these external influences as well as the continuing drive to improve efficiency within the sector.  We were also attracted by the opportunity to learn more about 'nudge' and its applications, and not only run our own intervention, but also to benefit from collaborating with other organisations. Our involvement in the project resulted in a number of staff receiving training on behavioural insights and has given an added impetus to the idea of assessing impact through the use of trials and pilots. We are much more aware of the potential to influence behaviour through simple changes to messaging, and are considering how we can apply this to projects around digital engagement and channel shift.

Emma Brooker, L&Q




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