The Anglia Revenues Partnership – a shared services venture set up by Forest Heath and Breckland District councils in Norfolk - is processing benefits claims up to four times faster with the help of effective workflow and electronic document management (EDM) systems from Civica group company, Comino.
The partnership was set up jointly in August 2003 by the two neighbouring councils and has demonstrated real progress in the delivery of revenues and benefits services. Members of staff from both authorities have moved into the same building, sharing infrastructure and business services, to drive the partnership’s work across a region of almost 1700 square miles.
Comino’s EDM and Workflow systems enable faster recording and management of customer contacts relating to claims, and intelligent character recognition enables all correspondence to be turned rapidly into electronic documents without re-typing by partnership staff. However, the greatest benefit comes from the opportunity the systems bring to re-design core business processes and then to automate the resulting improved way of working.
Comino implemented the new systems in two phases - workflow modules for benefits teams in phase one and a second phase to help revenues teams with claims verification. Work was completed by Comino in June this year.
Having improved local services in recent years, the two councils realised that the greatest scope for further enhancements and efficiencies would come through working together to share expertise, infrastructure and assets –and to realise economies of scale.
Steve Knights, partnership strategic manager, said: “The customers are seeing a more responsive and efficient service. They are seeing a faster turnaround of benefit claims. The average time now is about 14 days whereas previously it was about 60 days, the collection of council tax has increased from 95% to just under 99% and non domestic rates collection is now over 99%.”
He added: “The initiative was designed to improve the performance of both authorities, drive down costs and improve service to the customer. We now have a fully integrated revenues and benefits services with the same IT system and staff.”
Seeking continuous improvement for the long term, the partnership is being expanded and East Cambridgeshire Council will be joining in 2007.
Lindsay Dransfield, local government director, Comino, said: “Forest Heath and Breckland District Council have worked very hard to establish the partnership and they are already seeing very positive outcomes from their strategic vision. We have a track record of delivering systems that help customers to improve their service delivery and we are looking forward to continuing to work closely with them to support further improvement as the partnership develops.”
About Civica plc
Civica plc (civica.co.uk), which includes Comino, is a market leader in consulting, software and managed services for the public sector. The group, which employs approximately 1000 people, has a 20-year history of supplying local government, police, criminal justice, education and healthcare organisations in the UK, Australia and the USA. Customers supplied include approximately 89 per cent of the UK’s local authorities together with more than 200 councils in Australia. The group also counts approximately 85 per cent of UK police forces, 250 NHS Trusts and over 30 Local Education Authorities amongst its customers.