Circle Housing Group is one of the UK’s largest providers of affordable housing with over 70,000 properties across the country.
Linstock was commissioned to develop a behaviour change communications strategy for the launch of Circle Housing Money, a new credit union that supports staff and customers in becoming more financially resilient. The project aims to influence the way staff and customers think about their finances and encourage financial planning.
Linstock carried out a literature review to explore how behavioural economics is being applied to influence the take up of savings and loans in low income contexts. Research among the target audiences helped us better understand how they make financial decisions and interviews with Circle Housing’s senior staff and partners helped us learn from the experience of past work on financial inclusion.
Based on the research findings, we developed a set of strategic principles for the credit union: the need to focus on personal rather than community benefits, to set realistic aspirations and tangible savings goals, to disrupt the status quo, and to emphasise Circle Housing Money’s independence from Circle Housing as landlord or employer. Based on these principles, we designed a series of behaviour change interventions to engage staff and customers.
For instance, in order to promote payroll deduction to staff we designed an incentive scheme based on the theory of loss aversion rather than traditional bonuses for hitting targets. Staff were given an additional payment into their membership account when they signed up, which would be clawed back if they failed to meet their savings targets over the next three months. This incentive was promoted through online adverts, posters and at face-to-face events.
The campaign received strong support across the business and among tenants and stakeholders. During the two-month launch period 520 staff and 151 customers joined, significantly exceeding the respective targets of 180 and 100. More than £20,700 has already been saved and members have committed to saving in excess of £100,000 in the six months after launch.