Modernising Council Tax Services in Local Government
All UK councils have a responsibility to collect Council Tax, most commonly through their Revenues service. This service will be critical to the council’s operation, as it has responsibility for the billing, collection, recovery, and enforcement of Council Tax, as well as assessing and administering various discount schemes for those who may be eligible for them. But like every other aspect of local government’s administration, the market conditions have changed: customers expect more, council funding has been slashed, and technology has advanced
Tackling the issues head on
One such council that has tackled these issues head on is North Hertfordshire District Council. With diminishing resources but a larger workload, Geraldine Goodwin, Revenues Manager at the council, looked to Govtech’s webCAPTURE service to help solve the problem.
The council already had an online facility for customers to self-serve, but this service was enhanced by using Govtech’s online forms, and by using Govtech’s automation software to directly integrate into the Revenues IT system.
Geraldine Goodwin, Revenues Manager
“Not only does Govtech integrate brilliantly with our systems, we now have around 75% of our online transactions completed without needing staff intervention”
The Journey to Modernisation
Change can be difficult in local government and the hardest part of this change was getting staff on board. “Staff can naturally think that technology might take their jobs away,” explains Geraldine, “but by involving and engaging them the outcome is that we’ve taken the mundane work away and given staff time to concentrate on the work that automation can’t do. I was apprehensive to start with too,” she continues, “but the Govtech implementation team worked with us to build confidence and in the end it was the easiest, most successful IT project I’ve been involved with. Not only that, but the ongoing customer support has also been fantastic.”
By using Govtech’s webCAPTURE service, the Council has not only seen significant financial benefits but also a cultural change and improved customer service. With around 75% of online transactions now automated staff have been able to spend more time on recovery and collection meaning that an additional £797k was collected over the previous year with arrears reducing by £157k.
In addition, the officers in the team now have more generic skills, and greater variety to their work, and where there used to be a backlog of between 4-6 weeks in the ‘in-tray’, it’s now down to a couple of days.
Looking to the Future
North Hertfordshire District Council aren’t complacent, and future plans to encourage more self service are underway, as are plans to carry out a Single Person Discount review using Govtech’s automation software, yielding further savings and efficiencies.