Product in Practice - Irwell Valley Case Study


Irwell Valley wanted to introduce a scheme to encourage all 5,000 of their tenants, but especially the 70% identified as poor payers, to pay rent on time and abide by the terms of their tenancy agreement. The idea was to reward and incentivise prompt payment by offering them loyalty points and cash-back through Gold Service membership.

Launch & Implementation

With the establishment of Gold Service membership in 1998, Irwell Valley became the first housing association to introduce a rewards and incentives scheme for its customers.

Irwell Valley residents became Gold Service members by paying their rent on time and abiding by the terms of their tenancy agreement. For each week they did this, the association recognised their loyalty by giving them a Gold Service point worth £1. These were accumulated over the period of 12 months and the equivalent amount in cash-back then paid to members. For many years the cash back was paid in the form of vouchers. As part of its regular appraisals of the scheme, the Association, in consultation with residents agreed to extend the range of benefits with a combined customer membership and debit card to be introduced to mark 10 years of Gold Service.

Now it is paid through their personalised Gold Service membership card, an Irwell Valley branded Compliments debit card produced and managed by Edenred, the leading incentive and motivation consultants.

Members’ points are credited to their Compliments Card at the end of November each year, after which members are able to spend the equivalent value at retailers participating in the Compliments Card scheme.

A special Compliments Card design was produced to match the branding of the Gold Service programme and, that not only can the card be redeemed in many major high street names such as Debenhams, Selfridges, House of Fraser and Argos, the online functionality of the card has added a new dimension not previously available to members.

Card holders receive a mini statement detailing how many points have been accumulated and the date the points are available to for spending. This statement also shows how they could be in receipt of the full amount if they improve their behaviour over the subsequent 12 months.

Members can choose to spend or save the money accumulated on their cards. The Compliments Card also carries a helpline number, enabling the member to check the amount outstanding on their card. The same number can be used if the card is lost or stolen with an immediate stop put on the account and a new card issued.



Gold Service has been a resounding success since its launch, delivering enhanced tenant loyalty and helping in the drive to recruit new tenants - so much so that it has been replicated by other public sector organisations and even endorsed by Government.

The introduction of Compliments Card has proved a great success, giving a huge boost to the Gold Service scheme and helping change the behaviour of many tenants in terms of paying their rent and abiding by the terms of their tenancy agreements.

This has resulted in a turnaround of huge proportions from 70 per cent of tenants being bad payers to 70 per cent now classified as good payers – something that is having a big impact on the organisation as a whole.

What Irwell Valley Said:

“Edenred demonstrated they understood our brand and our commitment to raising customer service standards and expectations. The Compliments Card, which is currently issued to over 5,000 members, offers our Gold Service customers a wider range of options to spend their Gold Service cash back and will assist Irwell Valley in its drive to recruit new members”

Nichola Shepard

Assistant Director, Irwell Valley

About Irwell Valley

Irwell Valley is an award winning housing organisation – providing homes and services to over 20,000 people in Greater Manchester – with a mission “to create fantastic places to live and enjoy life”.

Ten years ago the Housing Association was faced with a major problem. Payment levels were so bad that 70% of Irwell Valley’s tenants were classified as poor payers, costing the association substantial sums of money. Subsequently, they realised that they needed to find a more efficient way to engage with their tenants.