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Last Monday, Stockport Council hosted the latest BetterOff Show and Tell. Local authorities from across the country joined LookingLocal and Stockport Council at their customer contact centre, Fred Perry House to hear about the online welfare and employment platform, BetterOff.

BetterOff is a new transformative technology that tackles the benefit and welfare process end-to-end; from assessing entitlement to benefits, guiding claimants through benefits applications and helping claimants into work.

BetterOff was designed and developed in partnership with Kirklees Council. Steve Langrick, Head of Online Strategy and Development and Steve Bird, Customer Exchequer at Kirklees Council also attended the Show and Tell at Stockport to give delegates an understanding of the business case for developing the platform and the detailed analysis that took place.

Colin Masters, Information, Advice and Guidance Manager at Stockport Council gave delegates a detailed view of the business case, implementation and current usage at Stockport.

Demonstration

The Show and Tell started with a demonstration of the BetterOff platform given by, Andrew Jackson, New Business Manager at LookingLocal. Andrew also demonstrated to delegates the newest BetterOff: HB/CTR module that is now live at Kirklees Council and allows all housing benefit and council tax reduction claimants to apply for their benefits with the guided forms embedded within BetterOff.

The Business Case

Steve Bird, Customer Exchequer at Kirklees Council explained to delegates the reasons behind Kirklees decision to develop BetterOff, including the business case for doing so. Cuts to advice provision led Kirklees Council to realise that change was necessary and with the overall vision of the council being that “residents do more for themselves and each other” the move to self-serve technology seemed the perfect fit.

Analysis

Steve Langrick, Head of Online Strategy and Development talked about the detailed analysis that was undertaken before the development of BetterOff to ensure that self-serve didn’t mean that any vulnerable people “fell through the net”. Kirklees identified three different claimant levels; 40% of which are able to self-serve independently, 30% which need some support and the remaining 30% that are considered complex or vulnerable cases that will still need face-to-face support from an advisor. From this analysis they could estimate that 70% of claimants would be able to self-serve given the right digital tools, hence BetterOff Kirklees was developed. With 70% of claimants using self-serve it means that qualified advisers are then able to spend more face-to-face time with the more vulnerable case.

Headline Figures

In terms of savings, Kirklees Council has reported that last financial year it made a cashable saving of £500,000 from it’s advice budget. There was also a review of the most recent statistics since the launch date on the 15th October 2015 which included: over 14000 unique visitors to the BetterOff Kirklees platform, monetary gains of over £8.9million and specialist advice requests dropped by 50%.

BetterOff Stockport

Colin Masters, Information Advice and Guidance Manager at Stockport Council gave delegates a presentation on the implementation of Stockport BetterOff. With an average annual caseload of 47,000 Stockport Council was dealing with 260 face-to-face appointments and over 600 telephone enquiries a week for benefits and welfare. Colin explained how Stockport came to the conclusion that they there were unable to still provide this same level of advice to all claimants and needed to channel shift the majority of customer to an online service.

Stockport began to implement BetterOff in March 2016 and went live 4-months later in July. A comprehensive BetterOff training programme developed by Stockport Council, with the help of LookingLocal was delivered to staff and partners across the borough. Within the first year of being live BetterOff has made Stockport Council a £214,000 saving,which has helped them to manage their impending budget cuts.

BetterOff is part of Stockport Council’s wider initiative, which is to become “Digital by Design”. As part of this, Stockport has already re-designed its reception to become fully self-serve. Delegates were given a tour of Stockport’s Customer Reception at the end of the Show and Tell.

Read more about Stockport BetterOff here

Read more about BetterOff

If you are interested in attending any of our future events or would like to book a demonstration of BetterOff please email betteroff@lookinglocal.gov.uk

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