The London Borough of Southwark has streamlined its service charge process with help from Northgate Public Services.
With the Right to Buy policy increasing the number of leaseholders, the council realised that it was vital that service charges were billed correctly and collected promptly, so it commissioned an end-to-end review of service processes to check how things were working and to see what might be improved.
The council found that leaseholders were receiving separate invoices for different elements of their service charges, and that those invoices were being managed by different teams. It meant one team would contact a leaseholder to discuss annual revenue charges and another would contact them about major works.
Louise Turff, homeownership services manager, London Borough of Southwark, said, “Revenue collection was also problematic because it was hard to allocate money to a leaseholder’s different accounts. If they paid a lump sum, it was difficult to apportion it across the accounts correctly, which meant teams were often chasing for payments that had already been made.
“We knew we needed a redesign so we asked our long-term partner, Northgate Public Services, to develop a new solution for service charges.”
Since the new system went live, Southwark’s leaseholders now have a single account for all their service charge invoices. The payment process is also much easier, with leaseholders able to see what they need to pay for and when.
Turff said, “Most importantly, we’ve moved to a single collections team, giving each homeowner a single point of contact to discuss their bills and payment schedules. It’s improved customer service dramatically, and we’ve completely removed the duplication of effort we had around revenue collection.
“Leaseholders can now see their service charge statements online and request repairs using Northgate’s ‘My Southwark’ portal. Already, 25 per cent of leaseholders are registered for self-service and we want to increase that to over 50 per cent.”