Could data analytics and software tools transform a housing association’s management of fraud, error and debt?
Organisations providing public services are under huge financial pressure following cuts to public spending and legislative changes. This is pushing demand for data analytics to assess, manage and address many of the issues they face. By focussing attention on fraud, error and debt, it will be possible to minimise errors and funnel funds away from fraud, directing them instead towards those who really need them.
In the housing sector specifically, the National Fraud Authority places the annual cost of social housing fraud at £900million, with 1-3% of all social housing stock being subject to some kind of tenancy fraud. There are a number of areas where data analytics can help ensure that processes are working effectively, assess the extent of fraud and error, and manage debt.
So what could be done and where should the focus be?
Key areas to consider include:
We believe that the best place to start to tackle fraud, error and bad debts is at the point of access to services. If people slip through this process there is every chance you will have ongoing problems with this tenant, not least the potential of them perpetrating multi-tenancy fraud later.
Fortunately relatively inexpensive software and data analytics can compare your applicants and tenancy lists to purchasable data sets (and data you might hold yourself internally) and mitigate this risk. Ongoing data monitoring will help associations to check there haven’t been changes that need to be investigated.
KPMG is developing an app for iOS and Android which will allow clients to check if a customer has the right to services. It will check for outstanding debts and their geographic eligibility to ensure services are not provided to fraudulent customers or in error.
By using these data analytics tools it is possible to minimise fraudulent and erroneous claims and direct housing and services to those who need it most. It also allows a clear understanding of the customer base and better targeted and higher quality interactions with them; a relatively inexpensive option which has both direct and indirect benefits to the housing associations.
We also believe this is a good way of protecting vulnerable people, because data can give insights about their financial position and history as a tenant. This insight can also allow associations to provide more support to those who most susceptible to fraud.
Available data could be drawn together into a dashboard setting out key indicators for these and other critical areas, so that scarce resources can be focussed on making the greatest difference.