Reading Borough Council benefits processing case study
29 June 2016
Reading Borough Council reaps the benefits
The council was struggling with an increased demand for services and needed a reliable partner to manage a reduction in housing benefit cases towards the end of its financial year.
The welfare challenge
Councils and citizens are feeling the impact of a wide range of welfare changes brought in by the Government. Demand for benefits is high, whilst the challenge of reducing costs and meeting rising customer expectations has become the norm.
As a result of these pressures, Reading Borough Council needed a reliable partner to manage the volume of housing benefit cases towards the end of the financial year.
Northgate Public Services (NPS) was selected because of its track record in successfully delivering similar services to other local authorities.
Benefits processing services adds capacity to a council's benefits team by accurately processing a variety of applications. This service works with agreed targets and in line with council policies, so puts the customer at the heart of the work.
At Reading, more than 500 documents needed to be processed in a short period of time to improve the financial outcome for the council before year-end. This required a team with good technical knowledge who could start work quickly and with the minimum of set-up.
In order to ensure standards and deliver results quickly, the capability and experience available at the NPS Midlands Regional Business Centre was used. Arrangements were immediately put in place to access the council’s ICT systems, Academy Benefits system and Information@Work Document Management solution, so the benefits team could process the council’s cases remotely.
In just four weeks, documents were processed accurately and to a high quality standard within the agreed timescales.
Pleased with the initial support provided, the council asked NPS to offer further assistance to complete another 2,000 items of work over the course of the next three months. These items were also processed accurately and within the timescales agreed.
Delivering an effective benefits processing service has led to a longer term contract with the Council, enabling Reading to call on NPS as its resilience partner for processing a range of transactional work. The outcomes for the council are:
• 500 documents were processed in just four weeks. This improved the council’s financial status before the critical year-end.
• The council now has a reliable resilience partner supporting its ability to deliver excellent customer service.
• Resources were freed-up to re-focus on meeting the needs of rising customer demand.
"With ever-reducing central government funding, we have to look at innovative methods of working that make us leaner but equally effective as far as our customers are concerned. We have been impressed with Northgate Public Services and the benefit services they currently deliver. Staff worked very hard to help us to get through the priority workload and ensure that our commitments to residents continued to be delivered
to excellent standards." Zoe Hanim, Head of Customer Services, Reading Borough Council