Time is Running Out 

We understand the focus of Revenues & Benefits departments across the country is providing the best support to citizens during these unprecedented times. However, time is running out to update occupied properties prior to the CTB1 submission in October. 

The New Homes Bonus provides local authorities with additional Government funding for each dwelling brought back into occupation, although some local authorities cannot take advantage of these benefits due to pressures on internal resources. The NPS Empty Property Review Service will relieve this pressure as our fully-managed service takes the workload.

The NPS Empty Property Review Service 

NPS has an excellent track record of delivering effective Empty Property Reviews. Our strategy focuses on building successful partnerships by providing hassle free services, enabling Council teams to focus on their core priority business.  

At the centre of our success is our partnership with Reigate and Banstead Borough Council. They provide invaluable experience, a public sector ethos and technical expertise to ensure that the service provided is of the highest quality. 

Common Misapprehensions 

Won’t the project put additional strains on my internal team and workloads?

Absolutely not, the NPS Empty Property Review Service offers its Local Authority clients a fully managed service. We take complete ownership of the review, dealing with the end to end process including data matching and analysis, canvassing, handling of incoming correspondence, system updates and property visits. 

We regularly review small batches of empty properties internally by writing to the property. How will a NPS review add additional value?

Whilst local authorities may conduct internal reviews, NPS has the scalability to carry out  reviews in bulk. Through our specialist partners, we have access to robust and credible data meaning we can correctly target properties, ensuring our efforts are focused in the correct areas. 

We cannot handle increased citizen contact at present.

Our review service offers citizens multiple channels of communication including access to an online portal, available 24 hours per day, a telephone line staffed with experienced revenues officers and we manage the traditional canvass forms. 

Wouldn’t it be better to review the properties closer to the CTB1 submission?

In order to optimise results, it’s important to get the review started as early as possible. Local Authorities who leave it until last minute risk having to skip steps in the process which means you risk missing out on occupied properties. We can also include properties that will have been empty for 6 months at the point of the CTB1 submission. 

With the current position, how can we be confident that the visits will be managed sensibly? 

NPS partners with Reigate and Banstead Borough Council to carry out property inspections. The team is led by the Head of Revenues, Benefits and Fraud and unlike private sector visiting officers, uses its local authority background in order to establish a genuine occupied property. Since partnering with Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, our reviews have identified on average, 5% more occupied properties. In addition, as experienced Local Authority staff, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council also reports any vulnerability issues it finds. For example, last year an elderly neighbour reported some anti-social behaviour by teenagers on her road, which was reported to the Council’s internal team.

What technology is used to capture data from property inspections?

Reigate & Banstead officers use bespoke mobile technology provided by Destin Solutions to capture the data on a mobile App that is instantly uploaded to the Cloud, and can be downloaded quickly and efficiently. This includes a photograph of the property, which can be used to verify the date and time of the visit by the GPS data. Reports are generated daily and submitted to the client.

We might be better off waiting until next year.

There is no guarantee that the funding will be available next year. The Council should take this opportunity to capitalise on the funding, especially given the financial pressures caused by Covid-19. 

 

“We decided to seek an external partner to carry out the review and chose NPS because they were able to offer the right mix of skills and experience, rapid resource deployment and value for money. The Empty Properties service was quick and easy to complete. There were no up-front fees and we paid on delivery of results. We were impressed by the quality and professionalism of NPS’ team who carried out the review. This has helped to bring in extra revenue for the council, which we can spend on valuable services.” 

~Revenues and Benefits Manager at a Metropolitan Borough Council

 

If you are interested in learning more about the Empty Property Review Service, please contact us today.