Advanced automation frees up 4 FTEs a year for Southwark


By taking the right UC data into NPS Revenues & Benefits, Southwark’s CTR claims and amendments are now managed automatically.

The drive to automate

The DWP rolled out Universal Credit Full Service claims to the London Borough of Southwark in 2016, meaning they were one of the first councils to accept CTR claims from UC claimants. Once staff were up to speed, the focus shifted to automation; top of the list was how to take the UC data and automate the creation or amendment of CTR claims.

Julian Sentance is Southwark’s Senior Systems & Development Officer: “By 2019 we were receiving 450 new UC claims each month, so we knew there’d be a huge benefit if we could automate the CTR process. NPS Revenues and Benefits was ready, so we just had to find the best way to do it.”

Staying flexible for the future

As well as the immediate efficiency benefits, Southwark wanted to stay flexible enough to manage any future change to their CTR scheme. So they set up a Project Board comprising people from the policy, systems and benefits teams to ensure the changes were made in the right way.

The council also wanted to maintain the expertise they’d built up from managing the original ATLAS change. So rather than engage a third party, the team asked NPS to provide some consultancy support to help the core team deliver.

Great results

In September 2019, Southwark went live with the automation of changes in circumstances, followed by new claims in April 2020. To date, they’ve been able to automate 31k changes in circumstances and auto-register in excess of 2k new claims, including a fourfold increase in UC applications since lockdown. This equates to a saving of 4 FTEs per annum, who can now concentrate on more complex tasks and claims, as every verified UC claim generates the relevant CTR automatically, requiring no action from local authority staff.

“Our goal was always efficiency, but this change came into its own during the pandemic.  Without it, staff would have been dealing with four times the volume of claims manually.”

Julian Sentance
Senior Systems & Development Officer

Top tips for other councils

Julian believes that tapping into the NPS expertise was invaluable, and has shared his advice for other councils wishing to take the next step:

  • Implement strong project management – by keeping policy, systems and benefits experts engaged throughout, issues can be ironed out quickly.
  • Focus on your data – understanding what you need and where the problems lie is essential to planning a successful implementation.
  • Don’t worry about the backlog – breaking it down makes it easier to manage. We started with changes in circumstances before moving on to new claims.
  • Build up staff confidence in UC data – by putting files into a copy database and testing them prior to go-live; that can enable you to move forward faster.
  • Keep the expertise in house – the more you understand your systems, the easier it is to introduce new CTR schemes.

“NPS added value from start to finish. From a full process review through to file checking and two go-lives, we had the support we needed to deliver this important project successfully.”

Julian Sentance
Senior Systems & Development Officer

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