South Hams council takes customer service into the community

3 December 2012

In an innovative partnership with Northgate Information Solutions, a leading provider of community justice technology services, the council’s benefit officers will utilise mobile technology and Northgate’s sophisticated assessment system, Assert, to ensure that citizens get easier access to the support that they need.

The project is worth £277,000 over five years and will see benefit officers given the tools to take the council’s housing and council tax benefit services inside the citizen’s own home. South Hams council, already recognised as an ‘Excellent’ council by the Audit Commission, will use the system to target people on low incomes unable to visit the council’s benefit office.

The project will:

  • Simplify the benefits assessment process for council staff and citizens;
  • Speed up the processing of new claims;
  • Enable mobile working to provide better access to benefits for those in rural areas;
  • Allow assessment of benefit claims to be conducted in applicants’ homes;
  • Ensure that information from mobile workstations automatically updates the council’s back-office systems.

Speaking today, Tracy Winser, Revenues and Benefits Manager at South Hams District Council, said:

"Our partnership with Northgate will allow us to reach people on low incomes who currently find it difficult to visit the council to apply for the benefits they are entitled to. This project will enable our benefit officers to go directly to the citizen and actively help them access their benefits.”

David Meaden, Managing Director Public Services, Northgate Information Solutions, also said:

“If we are to improve community well-being, we have to ensure that citizens can gain full access to their entitlements. We are delighted to be working on this proactive project with South Hams District Council. The intelligent use of technology will simplify the assessment procedure for staff and citizens, improve efficiency, and enable the council to target those currently as a disadvantage.”