As part of its housing improvement and refurbishment plans, Bracknell Forest Homes has signed a five-year, £600,000 contact with Northgate Public Services.
Northgate and BFH, who together employ around 340 people locally, began work last month on the new system to support BFH’s housing management and repairs services. It is expected to be live in 18 months’ time. The project is part of BFH’s £61 million package of improvements to take its homes for its 5600 tenants up to the Bracknell Forest Standard by 2012, exceeding the Government’s basic Decent Homes standard.
The new system aims to improve information services for tenants, overhaul the maintenance and repairs service, and support better working conditions and business processes for BFH’s staff.
Caroline Titley, chief executive, Bracknell Forest Homes, said, “We are confident that this new system will help deliver the services our customers want and support employees in their jobs.”
Northgate has also recently launched a new service to help councils to reduce the number of single-person discounts (SPD) for council tax that are being ineligibly claimed every year. According to the Audit Commission, ineligible SPDs are costing councils up to £200 million each year. Northgate’s own figures suggest that six per cent of all SPD claims are ineligible.
As a self-financing service which links fees to performance, Northgate provides councils with a fully-managed SPD review service. Councils which sign up to the service only pay Northgate when SPD cancellations have generated direct savings. Councils which have used from the service include Kirklees and Walsall.
Graham Beckett, divisional manager for revenues, Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council, said, “With the help of Northgate, we ensured that people were paying the right amount of council tax and generated nearly £1 million in additional council tax. Effective data matching narrowed down the number of customers needing to be contacted directly, then a fully-managed service from Northgate, including dealing with all customer contact, ensured those non-applicable discounts were removed and customers advised accordingly.”
Sharon Tait, head of revenues, Walsall Council, said, “Following vigorous validation checks, 7.5 per cent of our SPD claims were cancelled as a direct result of this exercise, combating fraud, reducing errors and saving valuable time.”