When this content has been published
Published on 29 November 2019
Councils seek digital solution for revenue and benefits data
We are one of six councils that have embarked on a Digital Discovery project seeking a new IT solution to deal more effectively with Council Tax, Business Rates and Benefits administration.
The syndicate partners have held their first meeting to agree how they will work together to check the viability of creating a customer-focused, configurable and cost-effective modern IT system for processing Revenue and Benefits data.
This is the area of local authority work that covers the collection of Council Tax, Business Rates and managing residents’ claims for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction.
Three Devon councils – Exeter City Council, East Devon and Teignbridge – will be taking part in this intensive, agile working project with Basildon Council and Brentwood Council in Essex and Sedgemoor District Council in Somerset, alongside Strata Service Solutions.
Strata is a company set up in 2014 to manage the technology needs of the three Devon councils and will bring specialist IT knowledge to the project team, which aims to deliver its initial findings by 31 March next year.
Consortium members comprise a geographical spread of communities, with a mix of demographics, and represent a cross-section of local authority data-handling and technological expertise. The lion’s share of the funding will be used to appoint a consultant to research councils’ experience of existing Revs and Bens systems.
It’s hoped that other councils may consider adopting any new system that the project is eventually able to identify and develop, should every phase of the project prove successful.
The work will include user research and theory testing, customer experience mapping and iterative development, engaging with many other UK local authorities and consulting with Revenue and Benefits customers and will be overseen by the government’s Local Digital Service.
Every district council in the country needs an IT platform that enables customer accounts to be processed in a timely, accurate and efficient way. But existing systems are a significant cost to local authorities and the project partners want to explore whether it’s feasible to develop a solution that better meets their needs.
All six councils are seeking to redevelop and transform their frontline services to improve user experience and to digitise processes through the development of customer platforms. The project leads and team members all have varying degrees of previous experience in finding digital solutions that involve customer profiling.
They believe there’s a good chance of creating a technically feasible and cost-effective system that is also bespoke, putting customers at the very heart of the process and speeding up delivery. Timescales are challenging, but the team are hopeful of being able to deliver the user research by the spring 2020 target date.
The project has the hashtag #rbdiscovery on social media platforms