Lambeth Living – with financial support from Lambeth Council – has commissioned a Welfare Reform Project Team via QK Associates Limited that is working exclusively on initiatives designed to negate the impact of welfare reform changes on Lambeth’s income collection performance. This pioneering team is working with approximately 3000 residents who are affected by the room tax and the benefits cap and offering residents with advice on the following options:
· Mutual Exchange Scheme
· Taking in lodgers
· Transferring to smaller units (both within in the public and private sectors)
· Pursuing potential job and employment opportunities
Over the course of the next 6 months – starting from November 2012 - the 2 two projects Officers working on the room tax will make personal contact in the form of home visits and telephone calls with over 2300 tenants affected by these changes. The team will also organise and facilitate Mutual Exchange Surgeries involving key partner agencies such as the credit union, welfare advice and Registered Housing Providers.
Windsor Housing Association, Southern Housing Group, Wates and Nationwide Building Society was - under the banner of Affinity (Reading) and was awarded the third social housing PFI project in March 2004. The contract sees around £50 million being invested in substantially refurbishing managing and maintaining 1,336 homes on the North Whitley Estate, Reading, over 30 years. As a pathfinder project, it has helped to form the basis for standard housing PFI contract awarded across the country.
Qadeer Kiani currently heads up this project and under his leadership there have been service improvements across all major KPIs, including reduction of rent arrears by almost £150K , overall resident satisfaction with the service up by 8%, development of excellent relationship with all key stakeholders and the selection of this PFI project as one of three finalists - under the category of Best Operational Local Government Project - at the Public Private Finance Awards 2007. One of the main reasons for the project’s success is due to the culture and change management Qadeer was able to introduce on his arrival in Reading back in 2006. Now with a less hands on role, Qadeer's key responsibilities include: mentoring, coaching, strategic advice, financial management, partnership working and management of relationship with the various key stakeholders.
QK have been working at Lewisham Homes since August 2009 and under an In-sourcing arrangement - with Qadeer employed as a part time interim Director of Housing and supported by 6 staff from QK Associates, they manage their Tenancy, Caretaking, Income Management, Leasehold and Customer Services Teams. During their 18 months stay with Lewisham Homes, QK Associates provided real improvements and delivered pragmatic yet simple solutions. A good example of this is the work undertaken to improve rent income collection by £1.72 million in just six months. The work undertaken by QK Associates' Welfare Advisor, between October 2009 to February 2011, has resulted in £244,000 disposable income for residents In addition, QK Associates managed Lewisham's entire Garage portfolio under a separate contract and during this year Long Pilot, the Garage team, were able to reduce the lettable garage voids to fewer than 100, circa 5% of the stock, improve rental income performance by £125,000 per annum and reduce rent arrears as a percentage of collected income from 3.5% to 1.9%.