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Getting it right first time

Exemplar Award Winner- Best Practice NLPG NSG Exemplar Award ‘Integration Award’ 2010: Fenland District Council

Fenland District Council is a small authority based in rural Cambridgeshire. Without specific funding it has consistently devised and implemented innovative ways of maintaining and integrating the National Land and Property Gazetteer internally while working with partner organisations.

The use of ‘unofficial’ addresses by the council’s Revenue Team had historically caused confusion for customers and duplication of effort for council staff resulting in unnecessary communications and even site visits. Having identified a possible source of unofficial records as the ‘temporary’ addresses allocated by the Valuation Office when undertaking site visits to rate commercial properties the LLPG Team devised a new working process to prevent this happening.

Outcomes

The Valuation Office (VO) is an executive agency of HM Revenue and Customs with responsibility for compiling and maintaining lists of the rateable values of 1.6 million commercial properties in England and 100,000 in Wales.

It also compiles and maintains the lists of Council Tax bands for around 21.7 million domestic properties in England and 1.3 million in Wales. Having identified a property requiring valuation - following a merge or split, for example - Fenland Council’s Non Domestic Rates (NDR) Team would historically send notification to the local VO. The VO would visit the site and record their information against a temporary ‘unofficial’ address. This report was sent to the council where the NDR Team would attempt to match it against the LLPG. On occasion, due to the ambiguity of the ‘address’ used by the VO, additional site visits to the property may have been required to clarify the location, or a VO allocated address may have found its way into Fenland’s NDR system.

Based on work already undertaken by Fenland Council to comply with the Valuebill project, a new set of working practices was devised and introduced. Valuebill was a project to establish the electronic exchange of information between local authority billing agencies, the VO and the NLPG aimed at improving valuation services for citizens and businesses. It provided benefits to all aspects of customerfacing work for which accurate property information is crucial.

When notifying the VO of a property requiring valuation, the NDR Team provided the official address and UPRN. If the VO had knowledge of a property merge or split, they requested this candidate information from the council before scheduling a site visit or, if already on site, they contacted the council to obtain the information prior to completing and submitting their report.

This simple yet effective process based on open communication has led to several key benefits for all parties involved, including the property owner or occupier. By using official NLPG compliant addresses, together with UPRN from the outset, staff at both the council and the VO are experiencing reduced workloads as a result of getting it right first time; the council is generating less correspondence in order to clarify addresses and the customer receives the correct bill at the correct address.

Key benefits

A streamlined efficient work process resulting in the use of NLPG compliant addresses by both the Council NDR Team and VO Efficiency savings for both the Council and VO achieved through a reduction in administration with associated cashable savings Improved customer service with bills issued promptly, to the official address with fewer resulting queries A strong working partnership built on mutual understanding with a potential roll-out of the process to other Valuation Offices and authorities

View from the authority

“The aim of this project was to get official addresses into circulation as early as possible; ensuring consistency and improving accuracy while reducing unnecessary administration. By achieving this we have gained a better working relationship with the VO, reduced staff workloads and improved customer service.” Wendy Cooley, LLPG Custodian, Fenland District Council

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