Tag Archives: Outsourcing

housing stock

Northgate Public Services launching first Pay to Stay service and software solutions

  • New software and service launching to manage Pay to Stay
  • NPS brings extensive experience of similar international schemes

Northgate Public Services (NPS) is launching both a new software solution and an associated income checking service to determine rent levels for Pay to Stay tenants.

These are based on NPS’ extensive experience in administering similar international social housing schemes.  

The new cloud based software service is being introduced to enable social housing providers to gather income details from their tenants and pass them on to the appropriate housing system.

As part of the associated service, NPS will contact tenants to obtain income details. Tenants can also submit the information online, in writing or over the phone to the NPS call centre. Once captured, income details will be validated and used to identify any liability for ‘top up’ rents under Pay to Stay.

The NPS Housing software solutions, which can already hold income data, will be extended to identify tenancies that are above the Pay to Stay limits, and to calculate appropriate rents based on government thresholds and tapers.

The service and solutions, which are expected to be the first of their kind on the market, will continue to evolve once the government publishes the imminent Pay to Stay regulations.

Sue Holloway, Director of Services Strategy at Northgate Public Services, said:

“We’re giving clients different options depending on their needs. Some will want a fully managed service that will do the legwork of communicating directly with customers, gathering financial information and identifying affected tenants. Others will be happy to deal with customer contact themselves but will still need software solutions designed to meet this new requirement, collect income details and integrate with the housing management solutions that manage the rent charges and accounts. 

“Our systems have a successful track record of delivering similar schemes internationally, and we’re using that experience to inform our work in the UK.”

Housing providers don’t need to be an existing NPS customer in order to make use of the income gathering software or the associated service. NPS Housing solutions are already helping social housing providers in Australia and Canada to capture the kind of income information required under Pay to Stay in order to calculate the appropriate rent level.

The company is also a trusted partner to many local authorities in the calculation of liability and entitlement utilising data similar to that required for Pay to Stay. Over half of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support in the UK is calculated and administered by NPS solutions, which also provides associated services to help clients to resource the processing of claims. Further, NPS provides solutions and services to assist with the Local Welfare Provision scheme, ensuring that support is accurately targeted using telephone, email, online, letters and face to face communication.

All English local authorities and ALMOs will have to start charging Pay to Stay rents in April 2017, while it’s voluntary for RSLs. 

Northgate Public Services is the largest provider of IT software to the social housing market in the UK.

If you would like to know more, please contact marketing@northgateps.com.


Notts council house

Nottingham City Council revenues and benefits case study

Rethinking revenues and benefits

Working in partnership with Nottingham City Council to deliver a leading revenues and benefits service that will create and protect jobs, secure £6m in savings and improve customer service.

The challenge

The greatest challenge facing local authorities today is balancing austerity budgets. Faced with reductions in government support, further policy change and ever-increasing demand and customer expectations, Nottingham City Council wanted to rethink its revenues and benefits delivery approach.

The solution

Nottingham City Council has formed an innovative partnership with Northgate Public Services to deliver its revenues and benefits service and implement new ways of working. Not only does the partnership look to invest in the service, it also guarantees to protect and create jobs through setting up a new Business Hub from where it will manage the function and offer processing services to other councils and agencies – giving back to the local community and economy.

The outcomes

The partnership will protect over 200 jobs and create up to 170 new roles, including 25 modern apprenticeships. In addition to delivering over £6m financial savings within revenues and benefits alone, the partnership has led to service improvements which benefit local citizens, introduced customer access with more engagement channels and provided a platform for the council to develop a commercial approach to services.

Download the case study


Sharing More Resources Blog Article

The slow revolution in local government

Nigel Blair, Head of Product Management and Innovation, Northgate Public Services
A recent opinion piece in a leading daily paper predicted mixed futures for dealing with rogue landlords measures in the council.
Yes, UK councils now have greater legal means to combat fraud, so the argument went, but after years of austerity how many still have the teams or the time to enforce it?
It’s an interesting perspective, and one not without merits – it’s no secret that council resources are often stretched. Yet it’s not the full picture.
We’re seeing a slow revolution at work in local government. Interest in partnering with the private sector has never been greater. But bringing in agency staff is typically too expensive, particularly where you can get a team of experience industry specialists for far less. 
Which is why Central Government’s push towards greater online collaboration and improved efficiency is being met by resource strapped councils with tough, innovative private sector contracts that directly increase revenues and decrease fraud.  
Sandwell Council
Last year Northgate Public Services worked with Sandwell Council on an empty properties review. About one in every seven of the properties it reviewed were found to be occupied, when they had been claimed to be empty.
Regarding the ‘empty’ properties, this could be fraud, it could be a mistake. What’s certain is that not doing the empty property review would have led to substantially reduced revenues for the council, at a time when the words ‘local’ and government’ are constantly being followed by their unbeloved siblings, ‘budget’ and ‘cuts’.
What actually happened?
In the case of Sandwell Council, a special team came in and worked almost as an extension to the council’s team. It looked at market leading credit reference data, then it managed the review process, including handling all customer contacts, system updates and, where required, carrying out physical property inspections. This was delivered without up-front fees, and on a risk and reward basis.
The entire review was done in 10 weeks. It ended up generating an additional £1.8 million in revenue for the council.
The first of its type
Tower Hamlets has engaged in an innovative solution that looks well beyond the narrow boundaries of its borough. Last year they helped create a framework agreement that can be used by any London Council. It creates an ongoing, working agreement that enables a council to engage a ‘virtual’ team to help with benefits processing. 
What’s actually happened?
Currently the team of close to 20 is dealing with some 4,000 benefits cases a month, typically for change of circumstances. It works directly to prevent the overpayment of benefits, for example in childcare and non-dependent costs.
To be on the team you need a minimum of two years benefits experience, though some have been working in the area for 15 years.
While figures aren’t yet available, it’s clear the work is helping reduce fraud and the overpayment of benefits – more than this, it’s flexible, giving the council an option to flex the size of the team up or down depending on the needs of the council.
The best part?
Because of the way the framework was established, new councils are able to join the framework and enjoy the services without going through the pain of a separate procurement process. Waltham Forest has joined, and is currently supported by a team of 12, as have Greenwich with a team of 18.  
The future
Some councils are unsure whether it’s worth their while partnering – in a world with finite resources, they don’t know if their problem is big enough to make it worth their while fixing. Others are unsure how much it would cost, or they’re already feeling stretched in terms of time and resources.  
These are serious questions, and there’s no one size fits all response. It’s clear that in some areas it simply may not be cost effective for the council to keep things in-house. Ultimately, councils should look carefully at the issues facing them and put their resources in the places that benefit them best – but there are real economic wins for many councils out there.
This article originally appeared in IRRV Insight Magazine