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In a new development chapter, BetterOff will soon see Housing Benefit (HB) and Council Tax Reduction (CTR) forms and processes made available to claimants. The digitisation of HB & CTR is nothing new and there are a number of established providers on the market. Kirklees Council has been using one of these technologies for some time now.

However, BetterOff has transformed the way in which the council provides support to numerous welfare processes online and we needed to bring the same approach to HB/CTR to unlock the savings required as well as significantly improve the customer experience. It’s a win-win for all concerned. We’ve reimagined how the customer interfaces with us and in doing so are able to deliver a platform that is cheaper to run, increases the citizens ability to truly self-serve and reduces the administration overhead and officer time that it currently demands. We’ve worked with our partners at Govtech to ensure that the solution integrates with Kirklees Council’s own back office systems (Northgate) but is also fully integrated with Civica and Academy.

BetterOff HB/ CTR can be purchased directly from Kirklees Council as a stand-alone platform or as part of the wider BetterOff offering.

Read about the wider BetterOff platform here.

The product

Headline features

  • Fully managed cloud solution
  • Redesigned digital-first HB/CTR form with embedded multi-media guidance
  • Fully integratable with major back-end benefits systems
  • Underpinned by HB/CTR entitlement calculator
  • Range of assisted digital tools including web chat and form co-production
  • Multiple log-in and ID verification mechanisms supported
  • Self-service account recovery process
  • Dynamic personalised supporting evidence lists
  • Intuitive design, responsive & mobile friendly
  • Range of reporting tools

Key benefits

  • Self-service solution for 100% of HB/CTR claimants
  • Wide-ranging integration benefits
  • Supports and encourages advocate use
  • Redefines complex paper-based process; removing high levels of contact
  • Reduces revenues & benefits budget
  • Offers local tailoring of forms based individual council needs
  • Reduces contact
  • Clear and intuitive ‘end of form’ process
  • Speeds up benefit application process

To speak to us about booking a demonstration of BetterOff HB/CTR please email betteroff@lookinglocal.gov.uk

For a more detailed view of the service please read on…

What’s included?

Multiple log in options

Ensuring access for all claimants and removing the responsibility of account recovery overheads from local authorities was key in the design of BetterOff HB/CTR. Organisations can choose to allow all or any of the following combination of login options:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • two-factor authentication via mobile
  • a dedicated BetterOff for HB/CTR identity
  • an anonymous HB/CTR reference number

There is also an option to login using a PIN, which has been developed to enable wider advocate use. The system can also integrate with local or other third party ID systems if required.

entitledto Calculator

As the HB/CTR form is based on the BetterOff platform claimants will be able to work through their estimated HB/CTR calculation with the built-in entitledto benefits calculator, as well as see whether they might be eligible for other benefits.

Assisted Digital Support

HB/CTR claimants will have access to a range of assisted digital tools including the ability to evoke a webchat session at any point in the form/process, as well as the unique capability for expert benefit advisors to co-browse (with permission) the forms with claimants in real-time - think GoogleDocs meets HB/CTR - both of which have proven to increase online completion rates.

Plain English and Multimedia Guidance

BetterOff HB/CTR is available to claimants as one form and has been deconstructed and redesigned to encourage the highest levels of digital completion. Working with frontline experts each question in the form is supported by plain English, written for web and multi-media guidance to help people understand what is required at every step.

Save and Return

The automatic ‘Save & Return’ functionality means that claimants can save the form as they go along and won’t lose any progress if they have to leave the screen for any reason.

Self-Management

The overhead of an account recovery means that many councils handle calls regarding login details, but with BetterOff HB/CTR the in-built account recovery system enables the claimant to manage their own account/login details without the need for advisor intervention.

To ensure timely submission of claim forms there is a reminder function that can be activated to text or email users that they haven’t submitted their claim. Following on from the submission process BetterOff HB/CTR provides the claimant with a dynamic, personalised evidence list based on each user’s circumstances, which details what documents will be required to support their claim, again, this can also be emailed or texted to claimants with instruction on how to supply the evidence.

Integration Capabilities

Partnership with Govetech means that BetterOff HB/CTR form can be integrated with any major back-end system.

What does this mean for local authorities?

The main benefit for local authorities for implementing BetterOff and the HB/CTR functionality is the increased efficiency in which their advice teams will be able to work. Self-serve is now a strategic imperative for the majority of local authorities and in the field of advice, implementing self-serve means that highly-skilled advisor time can be spent where it’s needed most, with the vulnerable and complex cases.

BetterOff HB/CTR will also increase customer satisfaction levels. The easy design and online guidance will mean claimants will be able to complete forms faster and at a time most convenient to them.

As well as efficiency savings and increased customer satisfaction, there are also direct savings from the fact that BetterOff HB/CTR aims to be the most cost effective HB/CTR solution on the market.

Email us to find out how much you could save by converting to BetterOff HB/ CTR: betteroff@lookinglocal.gov.uk

What does this mean for HB/CTR claimants?

For your HB and CTR claimants, BetterOff HB/ CTR means three things: consistency, convenience, and control.

Consistency

For those local authorities that take BetterOff HB/CTR on top of the stand-alone BetterOff platform there is the added benefit of being able to offer claimants the majority of benefits forms all in one place. This will make a more consistent customer journey resulting in less confusion and therefore reduced customer service enquiries.

Convenience

The private-sector has proven that, if done right, online is the easiest and most convenient channel of choice for the majority of people. BetterOff HB/ CTR can be accessed anytime and on any device, and with its simple intuitive design claimants will find using BetterOff HB/CTR hassle free compared to having to visit contact centres or calling for advice. The traditional email and phone support that is measured in minutes, hours and sometimes days is not good enough. Self-service is measured in seconds and this is what people have come to expect.

Control

With the ability to access information at the most convenient time as well as filling in forms without the need of an adviser, claimants will become empowered with a greater feeling of control over how and when they complete their claims. With claimants seeking out information independently, the feeling of giving up control to advisers and relying on them to answer their questions will be alleviated.

The BetterOff platform can help your local authority to achieve effective self-service in the areas of benefits and employment, creating a more efficient workforce and therefore substantial savings and increased customer satisfaction. If you would like to see a demonstration of BetterOff HB/CTR or would like more details on pricing please email betteroff@lookinglocal.gov.uk or feel free to leave any questions or comments at the bottom of this article.

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