Sunderland City Council

Full Application: Funded

Moving house is stressful and this is not helped by the complexity of the public sector front-end, as a new resident has to navigate individually a disjointed mass of bureaucratic processes in order to get everything they need when moving house.

The current approach means a resident has to make multiple contacts and tell their story multiple times which invariably leads to delays and in some cases can lead to hardship (e.g. getting into arrears with council tax payments).

The “process” is complex, time-consuming and costly for the new resident, costly to the public sector (councils in particular) due to processing multiple services for one individual and it doesn’t currently provide councils with opportunities to market their services (e.g. leisure, events).

Objectives

The project wants to understand this problem, the impact and the potential to develop a common digital approach to benefit residents and local authorities and identify:

  • What we need to do and how we need to do it to enable a new joined-up, customer-centric approach to moving house meaning that residents will be able to tell their story once and as a result, the required multiple transactions can be initiated and where possible automated
  • How we could structure the necessary information, advice and guidance to help people when moving to manage their own circumstances, setting up and making contact with the right services in the right way across the council and signposting to relevant wider public services.

The project will be delivered with in-house resources and specialists procured through the digital marketplace. It will involve extensive business analysis activity to analyse processes, current customer journeys and engage with residents.

Each local authority will be responsible for ensuring that the deliverables reflect the position of:

  • Sunderland and Newcastle City Councils – urban unitary authorities in the north-east.
  • Watford Borough Council – suburban district council in a large county in the south-east.
  • North East Lincolnshire – a small coastal unitary authority combining rural and urban.
  • Kirklees – a metropolitan borough council combining urban and rural areas

The project will be managed using agile through a series of sprints to maintain progression and regular communication across the dispersed project team and ensure delivery by the project end date.

We will have SMART objectives for each of the project sprints that align to the project successes with the focus on ensuring the delivery of publishable outputs by 31 March 2019.

The lead officers from each authority will meet monthly in a virtual project board format to review progress and ensure that risks and issues are identified and the required action taken to maintain progress.

A link to the project plan follows;

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jBSclFCe5vWXrgYjBxSwgIotWbp-8ANFeeLTP1iSMR8/edit

Cost

Moving home impacts a significant number of residents every year and in turn impacts a significant number of services. The five authorities listed receive in excess of 50,000 change of address forms for Council Tax alone each year. Most of these residents will need to separately register for the Electoral Register and arrange their waste collections and parking permits. A good number may also need to update Library records, apply for school places and sort out changes for social care needs. Estimated costs to process these transactions are in excess of £1.5m each year.

Benefits for residents

For residents the time and cost saving from solving this problem would be significant, reducing the need for multiple contacts and having to provide the same information several times.

There is a potential cost through delays caused by the current complexity e.g. council tax arrears, parking tickets issued then cancelled etc.

Benefits for service providers

Understanding how information advice and guidance is provided and the core services/transactions that should be supported around a tell us once approach to improve moving home but then other life events processes. Designing and delivering customer centric services will improve customer satisfaction and engagement.

Savings from streamlining, digitising and reducing multiple contacts and processes are in the order of £millions across the public sector. We will identify the business case and service pattern for change, reducing rekeying, repeat contact and multiple contacts across multiple services.

By understanding core transactions that LA’s undertake, the common service patterns, data required and how entries are made, we aim to develop solutions and deliverables that are relevant to all local authorities.

The proposed project approach is founded on collaboration with a number of local authorities working together to deliver the project. This mix should result in the deliverables meeting the needs of “all” as this covers a wide range of the types and natures of local authorities within England covering a wide geographical area and representing multiple disparate populations.

We will collaborate with other councils through Local Digital and in accordance with the Local Digital Declaration. We will each collaborate on a regional basis through our existing networks. We will share user research and test our thinking to ensure this meets the needs of the many.

We will host a slack open day to share our work and validate findings and consistency across the wider public sector.

 

The project will produce five key deliverables:

  1. Process matrix that builds on previous work undertaken elsewhere and that identifies: from a local authority perspective all the individual processes associated with a citizen moving into a new house; additional local authority services that a new resident may require/be interested in, wider public sector services that may be applicable
  2. Data matrix that identifies, for all the local authority processes; common data fields, specific data fields for individual processes, identification of required inputs from wider national data sets to streamline process (e.g. DVLA links to verify ownership of vehicles)
  3. User research report summarising the analysis and findings from the development of the process and data matrices including presenting a proposed user journey and illustrative personas
  4. Proposal report suggesting the approach to develop the product (or products) that will deliver the solution
  5. A business case identifying; the efficiency/benefit that can be delivered from a new joined-up approach for residents and Local Authorities, potential costs to develop the solution(s),

Our users are:

  • a wide range of residents to represent the wide range of services identified in the scoping phase
  • Service deliverers
  • Elected members
  • Third parties involved in the moving home process i.e. estate agents, landlords, etc.

How will we engage with them:

  • We will engage with people when they contact us to access a service and obtain their consent to take part in user research.
  • We will promote a campaign across our customer access points and third sector partners to understand their needs in moving home.
  • We will contact service deliverers to explain the scope and benefits of the project and get them on board.
  • We will contact a range of third parties who we have established relationships with to seek their involvement.
  • We will undertake user research via surveys, focus groups and actively when engaging with face to face and telephony service requests.

Proposed user research objectives are:

  • To fully understand user journeys (from different user perspectives) and through different channels
  • Understand any pain points including poor and conflicting information
  • Explore and identify opportunities for improvement
  • Understand what good looks like

We would like to benefit from;

  • support and guidance as and when required directly from MHCLG
  • being able to send communications and messages through MHCLG channels to help us reach a wider audience
  • help with engaging with other local authorities that may wish to feed into the project and help with sharing the outputs across local government
  • Access to GDS user research labs if appropriate to help keep costs manageable and provide a conducive environment

No funding previously received by any of the local authorities listed.

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