Customer Services, Sport & Leisure and Policy & Finance Cabinet Members – Minutes – 25 August 2015

1          (1)  TRANSFORMING THE DELIVERY OF LOCAL TAXATION & BENEFITS SERVICES – The Director of Places and Director of Policy & Resources submitted a joint report which sought approval for further progression of work to transform the front and back office delivery of Local Taxation and Benefits (LT&B) services.

Local councils faced significant challenges in delivering high quality customer focused services in the context of increasing customer expectation and reducing budgets.  It was vital that the council explored and developed future delivery models that would improve services and achieve the best possible value for money.

In North Lincolnshire, Customer Services provide frontline LT&B services through the wider Local Link service and Contact Centre.  Since 2012 the LT&B back office service had formed part of a shared service arrangement with North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC).

The frontline Local Link service offers customers 1-1 interviews on a drop-in basis. Staff helped to assess customer needs, to assist in completing claim forms and check evidence.  In addition a dedicated LT&B team within the Contact Centre deal with a wide range of enquiries and take payments. Over the years Local Link and the LT&B telephone staff had taken on more duties and acquired more specialist knowledge to support customers.

The delivery arrangements had operated for several years. However, the model was considered not to be fit for future purpose.

In light of these issues, it was timely to review the LT&B service to ensure the council was able to manage future customer demand on a more sustainable basis.  As the LT&B shared service operates across North and NE Lincolnshire it made sense to work with NELC Customer Services which was facing the same challenges.

Over the last few months Shared Service and Customer Services staff from both councils had explored and tested the potential to do things differently.  This had included reviewing processes, ‘once and done’ approaches, more use of appointments and the promotion of online channels.

Details of the proposed option were outlined within the report and included the anticipated benefits and outcomes.

Resolved – (a) That the further development of a business case and new delivery model to transform the LT&B service and a campaign to drive take up of online forms as set out in Option 1 be approved, and (b) that the Cabinet Members receive further reports as the project develops.