Caroline Jackson Revenues & Benefits Head of Service. I work for Leicester City Council
Leicester’s Revs & Bens Service • Last year we collected over £200m in local taxes • We have upwards of 125,000 domestic properties • And 11,600 business properties • We awarded over £125m in benefit last year • Benefit caseload of 40,488
Special Olympics 2009 Our Diversity of culture Leicester Tigers Leicester City Football Club Curve Highcross shopping Centre Leicester Special Well yes…..
So why an Inspection? • We were poor at processing times, • Our LA error was significantly above the threshold • and we had a significant pay back on the audit . Need I say more….
Be the pilot authority…. • CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT • Randomly selected – yeah right! • Smart cookie from Landlord Services KLOE inspections • THE specialist!!!! • Customer insight • Benefit Community Group • Demographics
What are they looking for? • Outcomes – what have you done that’s changed the service for the better? • Can you quantify that? How? Show us? • Was is good for you the customer? • What is BAD about the service? • What don’t they do right? • How could they improve?
The one message… It doesn’t matter how you have improved over the past year(s), your poor ….(compared to what?) can you improve? can you sustain that improvement? and remember your core business is no longer just the administration of benefit.
On site inspection. A military exercise • Round table meetings (the week before) • Highly structured calendar of interviews • Managed debriefing sessions • Evidence gathering • More round table meetings • Testing the customer experiences • More evidence gathering
Our last supper! • Friday the last day! • One final round table meeting with • Service Director or COE • Service management • Councillors ( if you dare) • AC staff • Final Kloe spreadsheet • Last chance to challenge/provide evidence
Thank heavens it’s over! • Hmm oh no it isn’t! You live this for months and months… • You do get a sense of relief they’ve gone but it’s short lived. • 6 weeks later the draft report arrives amid tight security …… put it under lock & key and behind closed doors! • Page five is the only page that matters- the score
Inspection findings………. • Some aspects of customer access are inadequate • Opening times inconsistent across the authority • Waiting times unreasonably long • Customer satisfaction low ( 74% in 2006/07) • Too long to process claims ( 37.5 days in 2007/08) • Too long to process change of circs ( 17.7 days in 2007/08) • Inaccurate claims ( High subsidy loss) • High LA error ( Claim correction & processing too slow) • DHP fund not used in full (we spent 98% of the fund in 2007/08)
What did we do well? • Take up work was improving. • LA tenants gain access to the benefits service via the Neighbourhood Housing offices. • Effective stakeholder engagement.
What did they find that shows we can improve? • Recognises it’s weaknesses and has plans in place to address them • Councillors & Senior managers are committed to improving the service • Leadership and management of the service are good • The service is responsive to local needs • Staff are positive, knowledgeable and experienced Something we knew all along
Our corporate magic trick • Challenge by councillors is weak • Councillors do not ensure they have the training necessary to be fully informed about all aspects of the service.
What did they think we needed to do to improve? • Improve access to the service. • Ensure customer receive the right amount of benefit at the right time. • Improve Value for Money. • Minimise subsidy loss. • Strengthen performance management.
Read the finer detail • There were NO surprises • You then need to decide what strategically you follow. • Challenge • Tweak • Let it go….. • We tweaked the wording and they accepted all the challenges.
Go the defensive? • Up to you – really its the score you get that dictates the next step. • Manage the response as best you can. • Our report was published in May 2009 • The publicity from the audit commission was more positive than from the corporate centre. • Public opinion? The AC got it wrong
Communicate the plan • Remember your staff • Keep them informed as soon as you can • They are your vehicle to improve • Get them involved in planning the improvements to the service
Start planning the campaign! • SMT away day • Get corporate involved in planning ‘the way forward’ • Change service director and councillor lead? • Report to SMB, redraft, redraft….redraft…. • Report passed 26th August 2009
Outcomes because it’s all about outcomes • £1m in extra funding for the service over the next three years • Higher profile corporately • No longer the Cinderella service. Additional help • DWP PDT – QA & work management • Leicester's Lean
Where are we now? • Not sure if we are to be re-inspected but no signs of a date yet….. • Join the ‘stakeholder/User’ group in London • Talk to those who have been inspected… • AC will chase for an action plan! • Operationally start collating good news stories • HOS - network, get out there raise your profile, move in bigger circles especially if your in a City council where silos are happy to breed.
Barriers, obstacles and hurdles • Smile sweetly at the inspectors when you become Head of Service within days of the on site inspection • Avoid if you can an increasing caseload and dwindling resources • Get your report through as quickly as possible • Impossible we can do, anything else takes a little longer! • Get your job advert in before the recruitment freeze • Try not to have a major IT split to handle