Hyde Housing Association - Remote support for Universal Credit claimants



Why the work is being done

To develop a white-labelled mobile-first web app to help Universal Credit claimants from housing associations with the Universal Credit application process. The product combines an interactive visualisation of the UC claimant journey with a checklist enabling claimants to keep track of their progress. Previous work and prototypes can be seen here. This project is focused on developing Prototype D into a working solution.

A well designed, accessible tool to guide claimants through the UC process would be an asset in the prevention toolbox, allowing a greater number of tenants to self-serve and freeing up advisors. This would impact not only the housing sector but also the wider benefit advice giving sector.

A digital tool also supports our own digital strategy, to provide a fully digital offer and self-serve options for our tenants, including for those needing advice and support.

Problem to solve

Hyde Housing Association provides specialist support for tenants claiming Universal Credit (UC) as well as managing the impact of those tenants who have been unable to complete a UC claim. 'Universal Credit in a time of crisis' (National Housing Federation, 2021) looks at the impact of UC on housing associations (HAs) and tenants. All HAs interviewed for the report confirmed they need to support tenants through the UC claim process, including step-by-step explanation of the claim process, their journal & their online account; a significant resource implication across the sector.

Without this support a high number of people will not complete a successful UC claim and will be left without sufficient income, resulting in rent arrears. Arrears put tenancies at risk, creating stress and anxiety for tenants, and require more resources from HAs to resolve. Ultimately arrears can lead to homelessness and require the management of empty properties and rehousing people, placing further demand on resources, all of which could be preventable.

Who are the users and what do they need to do

  • Here are the personas developed for this work from the previous programme
  • The tool would be intended for UC claimants (like Giles) that have access to a device and the internet, but lack the confidence and digital skills to complete the online application on their own. Trust is absolutely key for Giles so the solution needs to feel caring, friendly and supportive.
  • This tool is also intended for advisers and trusted partners (for example a housing officer or landlord or family member). They are not necessarily benefits experts, but they are motivated to help and support a claimant and are needing a visual representation of the process.
  • It’s worth noting, this solution is not for everyone. There are still people who won’t be able to self-help even with this solution. For example, because they don’t have an email address or are facing language barriers. For these groups, the online application may not be appropriate or they may require more specialist advice.
  • The final user group to consider is the Hyde Housing Association administrator / product manager. As an employee of Hyde Housing, they will need to be able to update the content on the app as needed when there are changes in the claim process for example. It’s important that the charity is able to easily maintain and update information.
Key outputs:
  • A mobile-first white-label ‘help to claim’ product that any charity and advice provider can pick up and use, having been iterated and tested with end users
  • A way to measure the success and performance of the solution through built in reporting and analytics 
  • A strategy for raising cross-sector awareness and adoption of the solution

Key outcomes:
  • More people being able to self-help through the UC claims process (end-to-end) without accessing 1:1 advice
  • Advisors able to guide people remotely using a visual digital tool
  • Fewer people abandoning the application process, resulting in more completed Universal Credit claims

Key project resources