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SLDC aims for faster access and better service

30 November 2016
 
A major project is under way to make it easier for residents to access council services in South Lakeland.

We are revolutionising the way it works to provide a faster response for customers and better value for money for taxpayers.

The Customer Connect project will replace the council’s current IT systems with a new digital process enabling people to carry out transactions more easily with mobile phones or tablets.

By the end of the project annual savings of £850,000 are expected to be achieved. The project is split into three areas: Digital, People and Places.

The Digital element is a joint project with Eden District Council. We are working collaboratively with them and systems experts Meritec to introduce new ways of working and serving customers.

More transactions will be automated with an improved website and eventually residents will be able to use their own accounts to track progress on requests they have made.

The People element will change the structure and organisation of our organisation to put a stronger focus on what customers require. Staff will work more flexibly and efficiently with new digital skills.

Increased automation will make services faster and simpler to use. It will also free up staff to devote more time to more complex inquiries, often involving the most vulnerable customers.

We have reduced our workforce by around 20 per cent in the last five years as part of a natural process. There will continue to be further re-alignment as the needs of the organisation change with the project. There will continue to be a reduction in staff over future years as part of a natural process.

Our Chief Executive, Lawrence Conway, said: “The aim of this project is to improve the lives of our residents by providing better access to our services and the support they need in a way which suits them and is best value for money for taxpayers.

“We have always been a forward-thinking council which plans for the future. We will continue to provide the best possible services we can for the people of South Lakeland and the best way to do that is to ensure we take full advantage of the digital revolution.”

The Places element is reviewing where our staff are based long-term to ensure the council operates in the best possible way in the modern digital age to meet our customers’ requirements.

The new technology makes it easier for staff to work collaboratively in the community with local groups. Working in a more joined-up way will help provide faster and better services.

As part of the Places review we are taking part in a feasibility study with Cumbria County Council and the Lake District National Park which is considering a possible move to a shared public sector hub in Kendal. A decision will be made by Councillors next year.

Cllr Giles Archibald, our Leader, said: “At this stage we are involved only in a feasibility project into a potential public-sector hub.

“The County Council is considering options to develop its site in Kendal and we are always open to discussing opportunities which could provide better value for taxpayers.

“We have always been at the forefront of innovation but any decisions we take must provide the best possible value for the residents of South Lakeland.”

The initial stage of Customer Connect involves introducing a new website and a new Customer Services system. This will happen in phases over future years starting at the end of January 2017.

The next area of improvement will be made to the processes in Planning, Building Control, and Land Charges.