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Business Rates Address Management Tool

Exemplar Award Winner- Runner-up Improvement and Efficiency Award 2012: Nottingham City Council

A review of the operations within Nottingham City Council’s Address Management Team (AMT) highlighted that a considerable amount of staff time was being absorbed in maintaining address and cross reference data held in Business Rates, Valuation Office Agency (VOA) systems and the LLPG. Subsequently, a project was established to analyse the relevant processes, identify waste and how it could be removed, and ensure consistency in addressing across agencies.

An overview analysis of the entire workload of the AMT, which incorporated the administration of Street Naming and Numbering, LLPG and LSG, suggested that the amount of time devoted to maintaining the link between Business Rates and the LLPG was unsustainable. This was particularly the case as the demand for services was increasing whilst the resources available to meet those demands were diminishing.

The need to maintain the existing and, preferably, a better service at far less cost was the driver behind the project.

The preliminary consultation process also made it extremely clear that, if the issue was to be properly resolved and the right solutions put in place, Business Rates staff and local VOA colleagues would need to effectively become part of the project i.e. they needed to be part of the solution and not perceived as part of the problem.

How the project was carried out

A comprehensive process mapping analysis was undertaken that charted the entire address development procedure: from initial contact with Business Rates or VOA, right through to resolution of any unmatched records identified via GeoPlace processes. This analysis involved detailed discussion and the involvement of all the key stakeholders – Business Rates staff, VOA staff and a range of other council officers.

It was suggested that the best way of resolving these difficulties was to construct a web based Business Rates Address Management Tool that would provide frontline staff with the necessary address information to properly identify an existing address and, if no such address existed, the ability to properly report location information and support details which included a location point on a map. This would then enable the AMT to provide a proper BS7666 compliant address and record it on the LLPG, which would then flow through the system from start to finish.

A detailed specification for the application was agreed with relevant stakeholders and this was then worked up for development by the council’s GIS technical staff.

Outcomes

The tool was introduced in March/ April 2012, but its development is on-going with functionality being added based on actual usage.

It enables the LLPG to be interrogated by searching on Building Name or Number and Street, Postcode, UPRN or BA Reference Number/Property Reference. The search form also has a spatial capability with a map forming part of the query page displaying BLPU points that can be queried using an information tool that displays all addresses for a chosen point at the click of a mouse.

The operator can, from the same page, choose to report a suggested address by selecting the type of address change e.g. split/merger, new development etc. from a drop down list that provides a relevant form to complete.

The report is then sent to the AMT who provide a properly formulated address back to the report initiator, usually within 24 hours, which is then also added to the LLPG.

The project succeeded by harnessing the skills and commitment of all those involved in Business Rates, both in the Council and the VOA, and has ultimately succeeded in the amount of time required to maintain the data link between the various areas by AMT staff being reduced by 75%.

Key benefits

• £20K worth of direct savings

• £20K of indirect savings

• frontline staff have now been provided with improved address information supported by spatial functionality

• significant improvements have been made in the addressing of commercial properties

• the number of new cases now being reported has been reduced from an average of 16.7 per week to 8.5

• the time taken to process those cases has been drastically reduced as usually it simply involves adding a reference to an already existing address

• the amount of time required to maintain the data link between the various areas by AMT staff has been reduced by 75%

• demonstrated that the LLPG provides many parts of the public sector with a unique weapon to tackle the problems arising from current and potentially forthcoming budget reductions

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