Results & ROI
- A 15% reduction in the average time taken to process a housing benefit claim
- Staff now spend 9% more of their time conducting claim assessments (value activity)
- Procedural accuracy increased by 11-14%, in turn reducing failure activity.
Lambeth London Borough Council (Lambeth) is one of 14 local authorities that make up inner London. It services a population of over 270,000 people and is one of the most densely populated boroughs in London. As well as other services, the council is responsible for assessing housing benefit claims and issuing payments respectively.
Lambeth, like other councils, faces the challenge of improving services whilst reducing budgets. The Housing Benefits Service at the council had improved steadily in recent years, but there was a recognition that further step-change improvements were needed. Additionally, the council were due to upgrade their document management system and wanted to ensure their processes were as good as possible. An added challenge was providing a reliable service to one of the most ethnically diverse boroughs in London, where language barriers placed great demand on staff and processes. We were commissioned to apply Lean Thinking to the council’s new housing benefit claim and change in circumstances processes.
The project was divided into four key stages:
Key findings included forms missing information, incorrect or incomplete requests for information, managers spending disproportionate amounts of time allocating and reallocating work, the team using retrospective performance data and cases being revisited numerous times before being assessed.
Staff were challenged to develop a new way of working that eliminates, or at least reduces, non value-adding activity. The new process included standardising work, using visual management, reducing hand-offs and moving to Just-In-Time processing.
The new process was tested to ensure it delivered the expected benefits and support tools, such as standard work instructions, were created.
- Roll out
Realisation of the expected benefits during the pilot resulted in the new process being rolled out across the service.
As well as the more tangible benefits of claims being processed quicker and staff being able to spend more time on value-adding activity, the review saw a number of less quantifiable benefits. Staff motivation and morale increased, there was greater awareness of end-to-end process flow, staff were more engaged in identifying and reducing waste and customer satisfaction rose. Surveys showed 87.22% of customers rated the improved service as excellent compared to 78.32% before the Lean review.