Manage arrears for non-secure rent accounts, major works and service charges BETA

Project details:

Organisation London Borough of Hackney
Department Housing
Collaboration Level Share Ideas
Budget £100k > £250k
Key Contact Jasmeen Sangha
Phase start 24 September 2018
Phase Estimated end 31 January 2019



Manage-arrears (beta) has been launched with a small subset of caseworkers. We want to make key improvements raised during beta testing. Moreover, to roll-out the service, the ability to handle rent arrears for non-tenancy accounts, garage, non-secure and introductory tenancies, and temporary accommodations should be added. In addition, the service should include managing leasehold arrears for major works and service charges. Hackney needs to improve its coordination and efficiency in managing arrears across business areas with the aims of reducing overall arrears liability and maximising social benefit from its housing stock.




Status Updates

16 August 2019

  • Soraya Clarke

    Week Notes: Manage Arrears

    Project: Manage Arrears

    w.c. 12.8.2019

    This week has been a positive and productive week, for Manage Arrears. We have;

    *Shortlisted Digitalmarket place bidders, and reviewed their proposals for Phase three. The outcome will be published shortly.

    *+Trish Hadden shared some positive feedback relating to service charge arrears. Last month the team saw a huge reduction, approximately by 10%, in their arrears which is a result of their arrears letters being sent. Contributing factors from our project include;

    • The improved content redesign of the letters
    • The improved accuracy which comes from the bulk sending feature providing the ability to provide and send accurate and timely information.

    *Many thanks to +Cate McLaurin for assisting with discussions around the Letter before action (LBA) and Ministry of Justice (MOJ) conversations. The Letter before action is a 14 paged letter sent to Lessee has part of the Service Charge escalation policy. We are investigating the possibility of an alternative solution to enclosing paper forms. Which will determine how these letters will be handled e.g. via Gov Notify.

    *Also many thanks to +Carolina Gaspari for providing +Elaine Geeves and I with advice and guidance on UI and UX design. We learnt a lot. Particularly relating to simple tips about making use of lines and space and grouping text. We have since adjusted the layout of our wireframes to reflect the advice. Our Product owner was shown the example of these and he is in full support of us user testing these with his team next week.

    Next week we will be:

    1. User testing case details layout designs with the Income Collection team
    2. Working to resolve the Hackney API/ Hackney action diary bug.
    3. Continuing to finalise LBA stories.

09 August 2019

  • Soraya Clarke

    Week Notes: Manage Arrears

    Project: Manage Arrears

    w.c. 5.8.2019

    This week +Elaine Geeves and I aligned the new Manage Arrears prioritisation scoring adjustments up with the Manage Arrears Message Flow which will be used to automate communications and the RAG which categorises the cases. We will be sharing this with the wider income collection team shortly, to ensure everyone has a shared understanding of how the three fit together. Many thanks to +Elaine Geeves we needed this! The important cases with high priorities will be correctly positioned and no cases will fall through the gaps. The good thing that came out of this exercise was that no major changes are required to make the three elements work together.

    We also shortlisted the Digital marketplace applicants for Phase 3’s business case this week and last week we said thanked and goodbye to +Guy Whitfield, the Senior Delivery Manager on our project.

    What's Next... As mentioned in the previous week notes, the business case for Phase 3 includes a few key workstreams. Our focus for next week will be finalising the finer details in the two areas below:

    1. Letter Before Action

    2. Case Details Layout

    Letter Before Action (Leasehold Services Team's arrears letter)

    Amending the ‘Letter before action’ and adding it into the system will benefit both the Lessees and caseworkers. We will be meeting with Team leads to discuss options and agree its format for the next phase.

    Case Details Layout

    We will be working on prototypes to capture the layout improvements in the backlog with the aim to obtain feedback from the users in the following week. The outcomes of both will be attached to existing cards in our backlog helping to ensure they are clear and stories are ready for the new team for Phase 3 join.

19 July 2019

  • Week Notes: Manage Arrears

    Project: Manage Arrears

    w.c. 15.7.2019

    As we're between build phases of Manage Arrears this week was comparable to last week in terms of being a quiet status update.

    A high point of the week was that our Business Case for phase three was put before the Steering Group by Femi - our Product Owner - and it has been approved.

    We have posted the opportunity for Phase three up on Digital Marketplace. It can be found here: Extend MVP for Manage Arrears Product

    Areas of focus for Phase three will therefore be as follows:

    Case Prioritisation workstream


    To enable Collection Agents caseloads to be further refined to suit the needs of the Income Collection team allowing optimisation of the Agent Work process.


    • Reduction in Agent time spent sorting or prioritising cases
    • Pre-agreed priorities and actions ensure a standard collection is based on fairness and without bias in line with team escalation policy
    • Increase in Secure Tenancy payments 
    • Escalation policy is fully compiled e.g. 5/7 cases contain errors or omissions in UH.

    Automation workstream


    To allow automation of Green in Arrears (Letter 1) and Amber in Arrears (Letter 2) for the Income Collection team.


    • Improved tenant experience by ensuring they received timely information
    • Ensuring tenant in arrears are signposted to advice and/or support agencies
    • Agent time saved via automation as they are not manually processing and sending letters
    • Allows auditing of sent letters correlated via action diary and tracked through a Government tool (GOV.UK Notify)
    • Will reduce failure demand e.g. 70 emails were sent in the last year to resolve letter failures. This takes up a lot of officer time.The manage arrears system has a low fail rate as letters have been set up and tested in line with GOV.UK Notify’s requirements.

    Letter workstream


    The introduction of a new letter template - Letter Before Action (LBA) - for use by the Leasehold team.


    • This will free up officer time due to less time required to complete the LBA process.

    Layout workstream


    Allows for iterative improvement and adjustments of the application interface delivered in phase two and includes the introduction of new features


    • Internal users will spend more time within the application
    • Satisfaction of internal users with the app is increased as the user experience is upgraded to match expectations
    • More information can be added to some sections of the app than was available in the initial delivery

    Roles and Responsibilities workstream


    To future proof the product and incorporate flexibility to easily expand and extend the service to other departments.


    • Customised views/access for different user types
    • Flexibility this allows us to implement different features/views for different teams
    • Security - this allows scoping of app items

    Patch workstream - To be determined by internal stakeholders.

    Next week: We will be working to ensure we had the backlog and project documentation in a state which will allow the next phase to commence easily. We'll also be working with colleagues in other teams to help our API team diagnose some peculiarities in writing to our legacy system (UH). 

12 July 2019

  • Soraya Clarke

    Week Notes: Manage Arrears

    Project: Manage Arrears

    w.c. 8.7.2019

    This week has been quiet for Manage Arrears. 

    The Leasehold team continue to use the bulk sending tool. They run another batch of letters this week. No bugs or concerns were reported or highlighted during the runs. It is rewarding to see the snags settling, the team independently using the system and less support required to process letters.

    Over 1000 service charge letters, with a value of over £1,000,000, were put through the system in 3 minutes!!!! Of the 1000 letters, only 4 failed to meet Gov Notifies validations and were manually printed and posted. We already have a task in our backlog to rectify this, by moving the address lines up slightly.  

    The Income Collection team were shown how to set up templates within Gov Notify so they can make use of Gov Notify for SMS rent campaigns. Feedback was that it is easy to use.

    Next week: We plan to investigate how entries recorded in the arrears action diary via the APIs effect Universal Housing.

05 July 2019

  • *Week Notes: Manage Arrears

    Project: Manage Arrears

    w.c. 01.07.2019*

    Key items of focus this week have been:

    • Preparation of Business Case for Phase 3
    • Case prioritisation workshop with the Income Collection team leads

    Business Case

    This week the Manage Arrears team has been focusing on supporting our Product Owner in the creation of a Business Case for Phase 3, the next phase of our project. We spent time curating the high-level themes to focus on and the priority in which to do so. Some of the decisions around direction were taken as a direct response to the deep dive we held on Manage Arrears last week. The business case will be presented to the Steering Group within the next two weeks.

    Case Prioritisation Workshop