success story/Wakefield Metropolitan District Council
Delivering savings, improving outcomes
Using digital automation to reduce manual input, limit intervention and free up much need manpower.
Key objectives & outcomes
£130,000 cashable savings within the first year
£750k aged debt recovered
>40% of data entry eliminated; 4,000 staff hours saved per annum
0.5% shift up on in-year recovery
Achieving a balanced budget is a challenge that councils face every year but, with continuing pressures, this has become even more challenging. Demand for services is rising, whilst expectations for how services will be delivered, particularly to vulnerable citizens, have grown. With resources stretched thinner, timely support decisions and rapid processing of changes is vital to aid sustainable collection plans.
Four years ago, Wakefield needed to reduce its operating costs and improve service delivery, whilst freeing up staff to focus on debt recovery. Wakefield chose Govtech to help deliver these objectives and the subsequent digital transformation in Revenues & Benefits is still paying dividends.
Wakefield Metropolitan District Council
- Services 325,000 citizens
- Council Tax base of 155,000 properties
- 29,000 Housing Benefit claimants
- District formed in 1972, and made up of 21 wards
Digital transformation to enable a 24/7 mobile friendly service, where customers could transact with the council in their own time and through their channel of choice would, through reducing unnecessary contact and automating processing, release team resources to focus on more pressing priorities.
We wanted to reduce the amount of time spent on manual data input and records checking in Revenues and Benefits, so we drafted a business case to look at the impact of online self-service with automation. We looked at various suppliers and, whilst other products appeared cheaper on paper, only Govtech’s webCAPTURE and eCAPTURE services could show a proven reservoir of customer automation data and outcomes that would underpin our business case.
Anthony Derbyshire, Business Development Manager
Having created the case for change based on outcomes, Wakefield’s team have diligently measured these. In Benefits, the return was immediate. eCAPTURE fully integrated the council’s existing online form with the Benefits system, eliminating manual data entry and clerical checking on 12,000 forms. This saved 3,000 - 4,000 hours per annum.
With webCAPTURE, Council Tax customers were able to report changes of address, apply for a sole occupier person discount or create a Repayment Arrangement online and landlords could report tenancy changes. With transactions being automatically checked and then processed in the Revenues system, Wakefield measured first year 'cashable savings' of £130,000. Savings rose in Year 2 and thereafter, as more customers chose to serve themselves online, further reducing telephone contact and footfall.
But the biggest gains were realised by re-assigning resources freed up by automation into Council Tax collection.
When we went live in October with webCapture, our in-year collection rate at that point was 0.25% down on the previous year. However, by March, our in-year collection rate was 0.25% UP on the previous year. The 0.5% shift in the first 6 months of live running was worth £750,000.
Anthony Derbyshire, Business Development Manager
cashable savings within the first year
aged debt recovered
of data entry for benefit forms eliminated
staff hours saved per annum
shift up on in-year recovery
mobile-friendly citizen service
Making IT implementation simple
When asked what Govtech were like to deal with during the implementation, Anthony’s answer is simple: “As a project that involved a third-party provider, it was the easiest implementation I've been involved with in over 20 years of local government project management. Govtech’s senior practitioners are former local government officers and communication was excellent throughout implementation. Everything went exactly as planned. There were no surprises. And it did exactly what it said on the tin.”
Building on success
The automation provided by webCAPTURE was a cornerstone in the subsequent internal transformation of the Revenues & Benefits service. Former silos and lines of demarcation have been broken down and staff have been re-trained and cross-skilled to enable a much more flexible and responsive service. This has proved invaluable during the Covid-19 crisis.
Our successful partnership with Govtech has enabled the Service to respond positively to our challenges whilst improving the level of service we provide to our citizens.
Melissa Mallaby, Service Manager
All standout digital transformation success stories begin somewhere...
No matter what your starting point is, get in touch and our team will arrange an informal conversation to understand what improvements you want to make and why, explore ways digital process automation may be able to assist and, if you need it, provide help to write a business case based on achieving those goals.