Case Study: Paragon Asra

Introduction

Paragon Asra (PA) are a registered provider of social housing, offering more than 23,000 homes across the Midlands, London and the South East. They have a range of housing solutions from affordable rent and independent living to shared ownership and outright sale for those in need.

FFBS has an in-depth understanding of the challenges facing housing associations when managing a hardship fund where tenants in need are spread across the country. Our fulfilment service offers our customers access to thousands of essential items which can be ordered online using our procurement portal.

PA’s hardship team provide additional support to some of their residents by granting items such as furniture, white goods and energy vouchers to their most vulnerable tenants. PA are very proud that the extra support they provide helps get tenants back on their feet and sustain their tenancies.

In order to assess the applications, the team at PA takes into account the residents’ circumstances including rent arrears, work status and if they have a particular vulnerability (e.g. they may have been affected by domestic abuse, homelessness, ill health, financial hardship or they may have recently fallen on hardship). One resident was recently granted a new washer/dryer as his disability meant that he needed to regularly change his bedding and towels. As he was on a low income he couldn’t have afforded to buy the appliance himself. Hayley Ivers, Universal Credit team manager, explained to us that having a new washer/dryer has made a huge difference to him as it’s supported his independence and has taken the stress out of day-to-day life.


Their Challenges

PA had just started a rapid growth period when Family Fund Business Services (FFBS) met them. Historically their hardship fund was smaller and they sourced suppliers and purchased products on an ad-hoc basis. As their fund and the demand for it grew they needed some expert help with the fulfilment of their fund.


Our Solution

FFBS’s online portal provides a one-stop-solution for PA, reducing their administration costs and time and creating tangible savings.

The portal allows them to track their orders, spending and budgets with our integrated management information and reporting suite. Hayley Ivers, Universal Credit Hub Team Manager, said:

“The financial and reporting systems available by partnering with FFBS are particularly useful as these make it easy to manage the budget and keep track of our fund.”

Hayley prepares reports to share internally on a monthly basis and the reports we provide are a quick and easy way to access the information.

In addition, FFBS provide PA with a dedicated helpdesk, available 9am – 5pm to support with any order queries or delivery arrangements. Our helpdesk can be accessed directly via our customers’ online account, by email, or by telephone, ensuring they have easy access to resolve queries. Hayley said:

“The Helpdesk is so fast and efficient. Most of our tickets are resolved very quickly and we can always rely on a quick response which means I don’t have to chase anything.”


The Results

The use of FFBS to administer the hardship fund has meant that PA are confident that the items that beneficiaries receive are fit for purpose. Hayley has commented on the speed of service, in particular with white goods deliveries, and they also like that the Argos digital vouchers are instantly emailed across, avoiding delays.

Hayley said:

“I would recommend this service to similar housing organisations. Working with FFBS is easy, it is an efficient way of working as it streamlines all of our processes. No part of the order process is complicated and we don’t have to go to multiple suppliers ourselves so this helps with administration time. One person can manage the fund easily whereas if we had to manage multiple suppliers it would take a lot longer and more staff would need to be involved.”