With welfare benefit changes fast approaching, there has never been a greater need to profile our customers and develop a range of tailored support and solutions.
From direct payments to the bedroom tax, the changes will be far reaching and cut to the core of our customer base. Put all of this in an environment of low economic growth, fewer job
prospects and high energy prices and this will also put our customers at risk of increased rent arrears.
At Circle we have a strong track record of reducing arrears and helping our customers to manage their finances. But, we are ramping it up, investing heavily in financial support, energy
and employment programmes. Central to these is knowing your customer.
We recently carried out profiling work asking our residents about their finances, attitudes towards money and saving and receiving money advice. This found the problems are often not
being unbanked – but being under-banked. This, along with the finding that the more people need financial advice, the less likely they are to seek it, has profound implications for direct payments of benefits.
What is clear is that the “one size fits all” approach will not work, and relying on online advice would leave a huge number of our most vulnerable residents unsupported. We must treat
our customers as individual people, and develop solutions that will meet their needs. With the Government looking for a further £10 billion in welfare cuts after the next election,
insights from research like this will be key to our long term response. Not only is it the right thing to do to help enhance the life chances of our customers, it will also help us to protect the financial stability of our organisations.