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  • Report
  • 28th Feb 2019

Testing behaviourally-informed messaging to increase rates of contact between mortgage lenders and customers facing arrears

A report for the Department for Communities, Northern Ireland

Key findings

  • Behavioural insights can be used to improve correspondence between lenders and customers facing arrears
  • Implementation of the studies was challenging, particularly where the lenders were required to adopt manual processes to send out new versions of correspondence
  • Where lenders cannot easily undertake further testing, our evidence provides a strong case for adopting similar behavioural approaches

In the build-up to and aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Northern Ireland was hit particularly hard by a housing boom and bust. Many homeowners still face negative equity, arrears, and ultimately risk of repossession. One of the key behavioural challenges is encouraging homeowners at risk to engage proactively with their lenders (as well as advice providers and, if necessary, the courts), so that earlier solutions can be found.

The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) has been commissioned by the Department for Communities Northern Ireland to develop and test a range of behavioural interventions to increase customer contact and engagement. An earlier report outlined the nature of the problem, the behavioural and psychological challenges involved, and presented a range of recommended interventions.

This report follows on from this earlier work, and presents the results from three field trials conducted in collaboration with two lenders, to test some of these ideas in the field.