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Capita Launches Behaviour Change Research to Tackle Rent Arrears

13th February 2015

Housing associations and local authorities have been officially invited by the housing team in Capita’s property business to participate in a six-month research programme to test how behavioural science can improve rent collection and reduce rent arrears.

The research will investigate how intervention techniques have an impact on the decisions tenants make. Several organisations will each try a different approach to income collection and managing rent arrears, such as changing the language used in text messages and letters to tenants. This will be measured against a control group in each organisation that will not change the way it currently engages with its tenants.

Each participating organisation will benefit from detailed intelligence on the effectiveness of each different approach, allowing them to better manage risk as well as providing a much greater understanding of what type of intervention works best for each customer. The organisations will be provided with data analysis, and supported by individual consultancy, and tailored recommendations on how best to meet their customers’ needs.

The overall results of the research will be analysed and practical recommendations, that have demonstrated the most impact on tenants’ behaviour, will be offered to the social housing sector. The research project will be led by Capita's newly appointed associate director of housing, Anna O'Halloran, who has joined the company from CIH Consultancy.

We are dealing with a period of unprecedented change, not only through welfare reforms, but also in the way the people prefer to engage. There are plenty of examples of behaviour change initiatives making a difference. These include increasing the number of people who register for organ donation, reducing Council Tax fraud*. With this new project, Capita is building on its existing experience in behaviour change campaigns such as improving teachers' engagement in their pensions, and 'nudging' gas consumers to get their gas appliances checked regularly. Our ground-breaking research aims to help the social housing sector make income collection more efficient and, ultimately, make rent arrears a thing of the past.

Anna O'Halloran

Associate director of housing

The research project will also be supported by behaviour change expert, Steven Johnson, who has carried out range of award-winning behaviour change projects for organisations addressing housing, health and community sustainability issues.

Places on the research programme are limited. Housing organisations interested in taking part in this project can email anna.o’

Anna added: “Our recent free seminar was attended by around 40 people from 20 organisations and included some stimulating debate. The ‘Nudge’ project was outlined and delegates were given a taster of what to expect if they decide to be involved in the research programme. As feedback was so positive we’ve decided to run a second free seminar in the North West on 24 February.”

Find out more about examples of behaviour change projects here

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