In January 2018, we wrote to all of our customers to explain about something called ‘The Rental Exchange’ that Leeds & Yorkshire Housing had signed up to as part of a product called ‘Insight’ that has been developed to both help the organisation and our customers. We cannot use the ‘Insight’ product unless we are signed up to the Rental Exchange. The notice we sent out to our customers about this included the option for people to opt out so that their information is not shared. Around 6% of our customers did opt out, which we understand is an average proportion based on our housing providers that use the product. However, some of our customers have since raised queries about the scheme and requested clarity about what exactly are the benefits. The purpose of this article is to provide that clarity and also make it clear that, should a customer change their mind and choose to opt out in the future, it is within their gift to do so.
The ‘Insight’ product we recently purchased has been developed by a company called Housing Partners and is used by in excess of 130 other housing providers like us. It works by bringing together our data and other information from hundreds of different sources via The Rental Exchange, including, for example, the Electoral Commission and the General Register Office and Credit Checks. This system helps us achieve a verified view of facts so that we are better placed to make informed decisions on our approach to, for example, identifying financial risks to our customers so that we can offer early intervention and support.
For a more detailed overview of Frequently Asked Questions regarding The Rental Exchange, please click here.
We believe that ‘Insight’ offers the following benefits to the organisation:
- It helps us to protect our income through use of targeted campaigns.
- We can identify customers at risk of financial difficulties.
- It helps us to mitigate the impact and risk of Universal Credit.
- We are better placed to help customers with financial difficulties by intervening before crisis point in order to ensure that people have the support they need (this may include signposting to money and debt advice).
- Helps us to tackle fraud as we can more easily confirm who is living in our properties if it’s not the customers who have tenancies with us.
- Assists us with pre-tenancy work to ensure that people can afford the rents at properties they apply for.
There are also a number of benefits for our customers:
- People at a higher risk of financial difficulty can access information, advice and support.
- Customers are helped to successfully maintain their tenancies.
- Customers can make informed decisions about whether or not a property is affordable to them, with LYHA offering advice and support.
- One of the most significant benefits is the potential to improve credit ratings which allows access to more affordable credit and to bank accounts with more favourable terms.
However, we recognise that some of our customers may prefer to not be part of this scheme and, if that is the case, please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org on 0113 278 3335 and speak to our Customer Services Team.
If you are experiencing financial difficulties, please contact us on 0113 278 3335 so that we can help you get the right support. Alternatively, for free independent advice you can contact the following directly:
- The Citizens Advice Bureau: www.citizensadvice.org.uk for details of your local office.
- The National Debt Line: www.nationaldebtline.co.uk or on telephone number 0808 808 4000 for free confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt problems.
- Step Change Debt Charity on 0800 138 1111 or visit www.stepchange.org.
- Better Leeds Communities at https://www.betterleeds.org.uk/.