Spanning a large rural area, Aberdeenshire Council includes 37,000 properties claiming a single person discount on their Council Tax. The discounts were last reviewed more than five years ago, so management was keen to see a review of their caseload in 2020.
Graham Duthie heads up the Council’s Revenues Taxation team: “We’d worked with NEC before, so we knew we wanted to work with them and for the review to be complete in a three month period. Straight away, their data matching service confirmed that 78% of our discounts were correct and that customers entitlement to discount should continue. That saved a huge amount of effort because we needed to contact fewer people.”
After the data matching exercise, NEC issued 8,000 letters asking people to confirm their entitlement. This could be done through a range of channels including a simple online form. Reminder letters were then sent to 2,300 non-responders ensuring discounts would only be cancelled where necessary.
“The data matching was slick, the online forms were great and the NEC team worked hard on quality checking at every stage.”
Right at the start, the council set out the expectations for the review. This included activities the Revenues team would manage, like debt arrangements and CTR cases, and when NEC could cancel the discount in the event of no response.
Taxation Officer Caroline Muir was the main contact for NEC: “NEC were a great team to work with. They had the right experience, they followed all agreed processes and procedures and were quick to respond to any issues that arose. We were managing this process through the Covid-19 lockdown, and it went really smoothly.”
Quality checking is important, so the council is now looking at samples of the remaining accounts to see if further changes are required. So far, NEC has cancelled 1,500 discounts on behalf of the council, equating to £730,000 in potential revenue. At the end of the process, NEC also reviewed the cases of those who continued to claim to live alone in the property to verify that data too.
“NEC has cancelled 1,500 discounts, which could mean £730,000 in additional revenue. A fantastic outcome for both the council and our 120,000 council taxpayers, which ensures only those whose circumstances allow a discount to be claimed are in receipt of it’’