Do it digital
With the help of oneSource, Havering Council has now added a self service facility for Council Tax and Housing Benefits activities to ‘My Havering’ (the Council’s online customer portal).
ICT developed a unique integration from ‘My Havering’ to Capita’s product ‘Connect’, which provides online access to ‘Academy’ – their Council Tax and Benefits system. This provides a single login to ‘My Havering’, which enables Havering’s residents and business-owners to access a host of Council Tax and Benefits services online, including:
- Viewing and amending Council Tax or Non Domestic Rate information.
- Viewing Council Tax Band and charge for a property.
- Viewing Non-Domestic Rate rateable value for a property.
- Setting up Direct Debit for Council Tax and Non-Domestic-Rates.
- Making arrangements for Council Tax, and if these are within prescribed parameters they are automatically approved in Academy.
- Apply for or cancel a Single Resident Discount.
- Sign up for e-billing.
- Viewing Housing Benefit Information
- Allowing landlords to view (and export to Excel) tenant payments and schedules.
The online provision for these frequently used services will allow residents and businesses to access them at their convenience and will help deliver extensive savings by enabling the authority to focus on more complex transactions as a result of reduced workload.40% of the Council’s customer-services related transactions are now online self-service due to the hard work and collaboration between oneSource ICT, Havering Customer Services and Communications services. We hope that the introduction of the new Council Tax & Benefits transactions will take Havering over the 50% online milestone!
With help from the Planning Team, the Secretary of State upheld Newham Council’s refusal of planning permission on the Abbey Mills site due to concerns of a loss of space to build new homes and a conflict with the Council’s local development plan for the borough. However, an appeal has been lodged by the applicant in the High Court against the Secretary of State’s decisions and the Court is still considering whether to grant permission for the appeals to be heard.
High Court challenge win
With the help of Finance, Legal services were partially successful in defending Havering against a High Court challenge on the grounds that the Council’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2015/16 was discriminatory.
Much needed housing in Newham is being provided with help from Legal. The Litigation and Property teams helped the Council successfully deliver its second land transfer and funding agreement for Red Door Ventures – the Council’s private rental-homes company.
The Litigation team has also worked to help establish Mercury Land Holdings, Havering Council’s private rental-housing company. The company will develop professionally managed homes for market rent with the aim of generating income for the authority.
A project to replace the service in Newham was completed and made available from the 1st of February 2016.
The new service incorporates improved infrastructure and an increased number of access points to provide wider coverage. It will be easier for staff, members and guests to access via self service allowing everyone to work seamlessly across different locations when using mobile devices.
It is expected that this work for Havering will be completed by the summer, as re-cabling works are required throughout the Town Hall and Mercury House but the current wireless infrastructure will undergo maintenance in the meantime to minimise disruption.
Microsoft Exchange e-Mail
Next on ICT’s list of priorities is the replacement of the Councils’ current Microsoft Exchange e-Mail system (Outlook) with the latest version running in the Cloud known as Exchange online.
This will provide increased performance, availability, resilience and access to the latest versions of Exchange online.
This is being planned for the summer of 2016; in the meantime we are working to improve the current performance and stability.
Business development & customers
The Passenger Transport Service within Asset Management has continued to attract new contract work with external customers including: Thurrock Council, London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, Network Rail and Essex County Council.
As a result, net income has more than doubled over the last 2 years and the annual turnover generated from external clients could potentially exceed £1m for the first time by the end of 2015/16.
Income from these external sources serves to reduce fixed costs of the Transport service and therefore mitigate the level of recharges back to internal clients.
Health and Safety
The Health & Safety team have recently been appointed by two multi-academy trusts (MAT) in Redbridge and Thurrock for the supply of advisory services, with a third MAT due to buy in later this year when their existing contract arrangements expire.
LGC awards 2016
The LGC awards have been around for 2 decades now and it is one of the most prestigious in Local Government, which is why we’re delighted to tell you that our Strategic Procurement unit has been successfully shortlisted in the Efficiency award category.
This is a fantastic recognition of how the service has overcome the pressure to cut costs and turned it into an opportunity to inspire change and improve service provision.
Supporting Newham Council’s Services to Small Businesses (CSSB) programme
oneSource is supporting the CSSB programme team in its work to launch the Language Shop and Better Lives as small businesses, plus the other externalising business units in development.
The support offered includes the financial review of business cases, setting up the legal entities and procurement support where the new small businesses are bidding for external work
oneSource is also developing a Commercial Offer of a range of services designed to suit small businesses once they leave the council. This includes a Sage based finance and payroll offer as well as support in HR, ICT, procurement and possibly legal services.
oneSource Legal Services joins the LBLA
The Service has joined the London Boroughs Legal Alliance (LBLA) – a successful network of 16 boroughs’ Legal teams (including the Tri-borough and Harrow and Barnet Law partnership), which aims to pool legal resources, reduce spending on private practice lawyers and provide free training. Being a part of the partnership means that we have access to a number of frameworks, which offer a range of prices for legal work conducted by external Solicitors and Barristers ensuring value for money. The LBLA also undertakes analysis of billing, identifies overcharges and takes up quality concerns on our behalf.