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The Hartlepool training programme tackles processing demand head on

Our training programme helps newly qualified colleagues to hit the ground running for local authorities. It also boosts local skills and employment levels.

The pandemic meant more and more people were in need of support. And for local authorities this meant they needed more staff on hand to help. The services they deliver make an immediate difference to people in hardship. For many authorities, experienced revenues and benefits processors were hard to find. Even the short-term contracting market was maxed out. So our team stepped up with an innovative training programme to get help to the market fast.

Launching the training programme

We’ve provided trained assessors to support local authority teams for years. But we needed a new approach to help meet demand. It all started on 14 December 2020. We began training revenues officers as well as benefits assessors. We knew we had the experience to deliver these sessions. So our own Skills and Development Officers, Amy Picken and Stephanie Metcalfe, stepped up to the challenge:

“We have so many experienced staff, so we knew we had the resources to help get others up to speed quickly. That means we can achieve more, and we deliver it even faster.” ~ Amy Picken

Working closely with our local authority partners gave us the confidence that the new assessors were delivering fast. So we ramped up the training programme. On 15 March, an external specialist business rates trainer joined us. She led a focused training programme on legislation and processing. Just two weeks into training, our new assessors were ready to start shadowing their mentors. And after another couple of weeks, they were ready to hit the ground running in a live processing environment.

Rapid results

In just six short (and busy!) months, we’ve trained 9 new cohorts of assessors. That’s 75 newly qualified colleagues ready to help bust backlogs and meet demand. And the standard has been brilliant. Debbie Gibson, Operations Manager for our processing services team reflected on our new starts from March:

“Through the training programme, we’ve found exceptional staff  who are performing at high levels of accuracy. It’s been so important for us that they can hit the ground running, and they have done just that.” ~ Debbie Gibson

What the training programme means to our new assessors

The recruitment and skill-training drive has delivered huge changes, not only for local authorities. There has been a boost to employment around the local Hartlepool area. But as the sessions are remote, we’ve seen new colleagues join us from London and Scotland too. This means we can boost skills training and employment opportunities nationally. And the local authorities we work with can face frontline demand while improving economic and social well-being in their region too. 

Many of our new colleagues faced great difficulty due to the pandemic. Suffering sectors like hospitality and self-employment meant many people were left unemployed. As a result, we have new assessors who wouldn’t have otherwise entered into the world of revs and bens. And now they’re helping meet demand in a growing industry. What’s more, the work is really rewarding. Our colleagues make a difference every day to real people in need of support. 

Lauren Braithwaite ran a successful business as a wedding photographer before the pandemic. Now she’s a qualified revenues assessor.

“I had never imagined a career in revenue or benefits processing, and now I’m here I absolutely love it. The people make the business. And with things opening up again, I can balance my photography business and my work with NEC.” ~ Lauren Braithwaite

Careers at NEC

We’ll always be on hand to help our local authority partners meet demand. So if you have experience and want to move across, or if you’re brand new to it and are keen to develop new skills, check out our careers page.