- Closing position for the in-year result was 93.15%, an increase of 3.55% (approximate cash equivalent of £4m) – for an investment in consultancy of £52k
- The only London borough to increase collection rate of more than 1.5%
- Sign-up for direct debit payment up 13.2%
- Average call waiting time down to 1.15 minutes from 4.06 minutes
- 50% reduction in abandoned calls
- 20% more responses to correspondence within guideline times
- Gains sustained and further improvement made in subsequent years.
The London Borough of Newham (LBN) has a diverse population, high levels of unemployment, a large student population and high turnover of properties. With a new target operating model and restructure in place Newham sought to improve council tax collection.
LBN had experienced a year of lowest council tax collection at 89.6%, placing them firmly at the bottom of the London Boroughs. The team had experienced enormous change in structures and location, splitting the teams between front and back office, implementation of a new IT system, knew but couldn’t see deteriorating performance and felt demoralised. Targets had been set to increase collection to 92.5% without any changes in working practices, so the challenges were significant.
Some initial improvements had begun in-house such as creating an outbound calling team to chase in-year arrears, reducing the number of ineffective reminders, and forming an improvement team.
The real challenge was to combine speed with sustainability, therefore we:
- Engaged all staff early with awareness sessions and 1:1 discussions, which revealed ad hoc communication and a lack of unity
- Set up Information Centres and daily meetings to track performance visibly, having found little shared performance data
- Trained the internal improvement team and leaders so they could sustain improvement
- Created a value stream map which showed high levels of failure demand due to splitting the teams, performance targets driving the wrong behaviours, and many different hand-offs
- Redesigned the process and structure to remove team specialisms; created a pull system to regulate flow of work; instigated resolution at point of contact; designed a desk aid for phone calls to standardise approach; developed a skills matrix to strengthen and develop the team.
In addition to the quantifiable improvements described above, the team reported improved levels of motivation and ease of work for staff and customers experience a far better service
As one member of the team said, with new-found enthusiasm – ‘The only way is up!’