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Forest of Dean – re-engineering services and making savings

Forest of Dean District Council today reveals the success of a programme to deliver more effective and efficient services for its citizens, as it announces potential savings of over £285,000, and that four members of its staff have been awarded special certificates in recognition of the service improvements.

Working in close partnership with Northgate Information Solutions, Forest of Dean has undertaken Northgate’s ‘Organisational Re-engineering’ (OR) programme, a unique methodology developed specifically for local authorities to provide a better service for local citizens whilst making efficiency savings, and to equip council staff with the skills and knowledge to deliver continuous improvement.

The initial programme consisted of four OR projects with Northgate, which will result in substantial service delivery improvements, improved citizen interaction, improved internal efficiency, and increased staff morale:

• Administration – the OR methodology was applied to the whole council, identifying both areas for further review (for which project plans have been set up), as well as quick wins that will achieve savings of around £110,000, with further savings yet to be finalised.

• Revenues & Benefits – processes of work in the Revenues & Benefits department were re-engineered, which will realise cashable savings of over £157,000 and save 5,400 hours in workload movement. Various volume services will now be delivered by the council’s front office team, including calls and visits relating to benefits (for example, application verification, change in circumstances, and pre-tenancy determination), and calls and visits relating to council tax (for instance, reminders, direct debits, discounts, refunds and vacations and occupations).

• Change of address and bereavement – the implementation of a cross-cutting and organisational-wide notification of change of address and bereavements service for citizens, resulting in a substantial improvement to council services.

• Pest Control – transfer of appropriate pest control processes to the front office, which will result in £18,000 of savings.

Through a knowledge transfer process, the partnership has also been successful in creating a fully trained in-house team, who have been awarded special certification by Northgate to allow them to continue to apply the OR methodology across the council. The team will next review the Building Control, Development Control and Environmental Health departments in order to identify further areas that will benefit from re-engineering.

David Matthams, Deputy Chief Executive of Forest of Dean District Council, said today: “By working in close partnership with Northgate on this ‘Organisational Re-engineering’ programme, we are improving services for our citizens at the same time as increasing efficiency and developing the skills and knowledge of our employees. The council is committed to ensuring that our citizens get a first-class service, and that is why we will continue to look closely at how we deliver our services, to ensure we provide the highest quality at the best value for money. I am also delighted that our success, and the commitment of our staff, have been recognised with the presentation of Northgate’s OR certificates.”

Joe Bradley, Managing Director of Local Government & Social Housing at Northgate Public Services, said: “Northgate’s task is to enhance public value through the intelligent use of people and technology. We are proud to be working in partnership with Forest of Dean to support them in their drive to improve services for their citizens, and realise substantial savings at the same time. Also, by transferring knowledge and experience from Northgate’s consultants to council staff, we have, in partnership with the council, created a sustainable programme of improvement and efficiency that will continue long beyond the lifetime of the contract.”

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For further information:

Fellows’ Associates
Kathy Sutton
Tel: 020 7849 3403
Email: 07966 890401
Email: ksutton@fellowsassociates.com

Alastair Whitehead
Tel: 020 7849 3347
Mob: 07930 566291
Email: awhitehead@fellowsassociates.com

Notes to Editors

1. Northgate Information Solutions is a leading provider of innovative technology solutions to the public services and utilities markets. Northgate’s task is to enhance public value through the intelligent use of people and technology and to share in the economic and social benefits that this brings.

2. In the UK, Northgate works with four out of five local authorities and every police force. Its systems are used in the management of over 1.5 million local authority and housing association properties; in the administration of more than £17 billion of revenues and benefits; and in electoral administration systems covering over 18 million people. Founded in 1969, the company has over 3,300 employees.

3. ‘Organisational Re-engineering’ (OR) was originally developed by Northgate whilst working in a unique public private partnership with West Lancashire District Council.

4. Steve Knighton, Government Sector Manager at Northgate Public Services presented ‘Organisational Re-engineering’ certificates to the members of the Forest of Dean District Council Organisational Change Team on 22nd March 2007:

• Caroline Horlick (Advanced Practitioner and Certified Organisational Change Manager)
• Claire Brain (Certified Practitioner)
• Debbie Jenkins (Certified Practitioner)
• Sheryl Netley (Certified Practitioner)