Better tenant services at Cornwall Council

09 July 2014

Cornwall Council had been operating with two separate Landlord Services teams since becoming a unitary authority in 2009.

The council wished to merge these to become more efficient, achieve value for money and standardise their services for tenants. Capita has been a key part of this vision.

Separate working

Cornwall Council manages over 7000 homes. However, with two separate teams and different databases supporting them, the services provided were not consistent.

Different levels of service

According to Julie Treby, project manager, Information Services, Cornwall Council., this meant that tenants in the two areas had different levels of service. "Some of the North Cornwall tenants reported themselves as feeling second class in relation to their southern counterparts."

Not having performance data in one place also meant it was difficult to bring information together for statutory returns."Assimilating the data for these reports required more than a hundred hours of work. Housing officers had to request data from a number of people in different departments and, where the data was incomplete, had to make assumptions," explains Julie.

Joining forces

It was decided that consolidating the two areas' data onto one Capita housing management system was the best solution.

The council now has a single point of contact for all their management data. "If a tenant calls in, the service can access everything it needs to deal with the enquiry," says Julie.

Savings realised

A total of three servers have been decommissioned resulting in an instant saving of around £25,000 in maintenance costs.

"Information Services now only has to support one system. There is also a single administration team within Landlord Services and no need for dedicated individuals pulling together information for statutory returns — you simply run a report," explains Julie.

In addition, the service has also saved £80,000 in charges for rent collection services, which are now undertaken by the team.

Tailored services

The new system has given Cornwall Council the capacity to encourage more tenants to start making payments by direct debit. The council is predicting an increase in direct debit payments from its current level of 42 per cent to over 60 per cent.

"We can now offer collections that suit our tenants' financial position, including weekly direct debits. This is helping prevent people getting behind with their rent and saves us money too, as it is the cheapest method of collection," explains Emma Blatchford, finance and governance manager, Cornwall Council.

In the future, as more information is gathered, the council will be able to start tailoring services more effectively. "This will help us move away from a one-size-fits-all service to one that is based on individual needs," concludes Emma.

Download the case study to see the full benefits at Cornwall Council.