By providing a multi-skilled team to support busy staff, we helped Cheshire East Council to process increased volumes of work in council tax, business rates, housing benefit and council tax support.
At the end of 2019, the contract Revenues held for external processing was coming to an end. The service was already working at reduced capacity having lost two experienced and skilled workers who had chosen a different career path.
Following a successful tender exercise, we were the preferred supplier to help Revenues and Benefits services strengthen their resilience by offering Cheshire East a team of already established and experienced workers.
With the initial meeting held early in March 2020, we first got to grips with the council’s complex policies and procedures. It became clear that lockdown would lead to a significant increase in claims. So we started processing council tax, housing benefit and council tax reduction documents from 6th April.
“There’s no way we could have achieved the same result with short term recruitment” ~ Nova Pointon, Senior Service Development Officer
“NEC provided expert support exactly where and when we needed it, helping us to deliver for our residents at a really challenging time”
We initially provided four full time equivalents (FTEs) for council tax and four for benefits. The flexibility of our service meant that when volumes returned to manageable levels in other areas, four of the FTEs could switch to processing NNDR documents. These include those relating to the new business grants.
Since July, we’ve successfully reduced a backlog of 2,000 requests to fewer than 150 – well in time for the closure of the grants – and were able to stand down. As of September 2020, six FTEs are supporting the council tax area and Cheshire East can call on more support if needed.
In October 2019, 78% of documents were completed within ten days. Fast forward to October 2020 and Cheshire East’s council tax department is completing 92% of documents in the same time period.
Nova Pointon, Senior Service Development Officer, commented “We have developed a brilliant working relationship with NEC during a time of great uncertainty. It’s fantastic to have that partnership to fall back on whenever it’s needed”.
“Knowing the NEC team can dip in and out of different processes to provide us with targeted support is great. They’ve got to grips with our ‘localisms’ really quickly and I’ve been really impressed with the quality of their work.”
“By training the existing NEC team members in NNDR, our response was agile. It allowed us to provide further support to our customer where they needed the help most. The project has worked brilliantly with the support of both the Cheshire East and NEC teams. We are now able to navigate between Revenues, Benefits and NNDR work to suit our customer’s changing needs.”