North Hertfordshire District Council, based in Letchworth Garden City, serves a population of 126,000. Transition to Full Service Universal Credit was completed in October 2018.

One year on, Anne Banner, Benefits Manager, talks about Govtech’s Universal Credit Digital Service (UCDS).

Transforming Productivity in CTS Administration – North Herts DC, a narrative case study

What problems and issues were you looking to address?

“A backlog of work had built up which was an unknown quantity; the backlog consisted of files which we knew would become many more tasks once we loaded them.

Clarity of data was a concern. It wasn’t clear what information was in the DWP Notifications we received, and a lot of time was consumed on interpreting these changes.

Cost was a major concern. We initially took on a temporary staff member to deal with the increased workload, but this was not sustainable.”

We are the most up to date we have been in a long time with only 2 days of UC files outstanding.

I would estimate that 80% of our UC claims are now being fully automated.

What factors were important in identifying a solution?

“This is an extremely complex area, so two things were important. First, we had to have trust in the organisation we were dealing with and confidence that they understood the process and business requirements.

Govtech already had our trust and confidence. We saw UCDS as a way to build on our successful partnership in Revenues. Second, simplicity was vital. Initially, we worked from our document management system. The original PDFs were difficult to read, with information not presented in context. Assessors had to sift every page to find what was needed. Then, we switched to working from Task Manager in the core system.

Assessors were used to working from DMS work queues and were less comfortable working in this way. UCDS provides a much better solution. Only relevant data is presented to Atlas and the PDF renditions it generates as it loads Notifications are clear, concise and presented in context.

It’s much easier now to explain awards to customers as all the values used are present in the rendition.”

How easy was it to implement UCDS?

“It was straightforward. Our IT department set up automated loading of files returned from Govtech, so that there were no delays. Govtech ran a configuration workshop for us to explain what rules we needed to remove data not relevant to our scheme, how to deal with anomalies in the DWP data and what document types we needed for auto-indexing. We loaded test files over a couple of days and were able to sign-off and go live.”

What impact has UCDS had?

“We are the most up to date we have been in a long time with only 2 days of UC files outstanding.

I would estimate that 80% of our UC claims are now being fully automated. The only cases we look at are the Stop notices and the unmatched claims, of which there are far fewer. We were unable to view the unmatched files previously so now we are confident we aren’t missing any data as they are loaded into our DMS.

All Notifications sent to Govtech are returned and loaded the same day. Associated PDF renditions go straight into our DMS as completed work, other than Stop Notices and unmatched files.

It is so much easier and clearer to check an award if the Officer is unsure. For less experienced staff, this has improved their confidence.