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Oxford City Council - ThreeSixty Risk Based Verification

Oxford CouncilBackground

Oxford City Council is responsible for assessing housing benefit and for applying any council tax reduction for people living in Oxford, who need help paying their rent and council tax.  When applying, claimants must provide information which allows an accurate assessment of their entitlement.

Historically, the same verification process was applied to 100 per cent of claims when in fact only approximately six per cent of claim forms contained error. This made the claim process cumbersome and lengthy.

Oxford City Council recognised that there was an opportunity to remove the burden for claimants and benefit officers by introducing risk based verification (RBV), allowing different verification standards to be applied to different claim types. 

Objective

Oxford City Council wanted to reduce;  

  • wasted effort on defective claims
  • customer contacts and change in customer engagement  
  • post/emails out and scanning  
  • officers time spent on verification – change in procedures and processes
  • appeals

and;

  • improve processing time  
  • increase customer satisfaction  
  • spend time on other activities more valuable than unnecessary verification.

Solution

In February 2013 the Council introduced ThreeSixty Risk Based Verification.

The solution provides Oxford City Council an individual risk rating for all housing benefit and local council tax reduction claims, based on the likelihood of it being fraudulent or erroneous. The Council’s benefit officers are then empowered to apply a verification process which is appropriate and proportionate to the risk posed by each claim.

To ensure maximum accuracy for benefit assessors, in 2014 RBV introduced credit reference agency  business intelligence, provided by Callcredit, to inform the decision making process even further. Using this enhanced data the higher risk claims are automatically exposed to greater scrutiny, increasing the amount of fraud and error detected for those claims.

Results

Through the use of RBV and a wider process review Oxford has realised a net annual saving of £176k and driven down processing times.

Callcredit provided thorough support via floor walking, site visits and data analysis. Through the help and support provided by Callcredit Oxford was able to;  

  • create RBV specialists,
  • employees who understand the system well and maximise its outcomes
  • align system processes with service philosophy
  • involve staff in designing a new processes and embrace change  
  • spend more time on other activities  
  • reduced waiting times in Oxford City Council’s two customer contact centres

The two graphs highlight how face to face waiting times have reduced in Oxford City Council’s two customer contact centres.

Oxford graph 1

Oxford graph 2

 “The key to successfully implementing any new process or technological solution is to ensure that the change you are making is consistent with your philosophy of service delivery, and is delivered as part of a coherent programme of change.
“The introduction of RBV has had a dramatic impact on our new claims processing times. RBV was introduced in February 2013, and our processing times have come down from 26 days in 2012/13 to 18 days in 2013/14 and 12 days in 2014/15.” Revenues and Benefits programme manager

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