First Published in IRRV Insight in February 2012
Many Local Authorities are welcoming the Government’s enthusiasm for transferring power to a local level; is this the start of tax raising powers, we will of course see! There would seem to be a lot of sense in giving the bodies with local knowledge the ability to respond to local needs and circumstances and of course topically the ability to create support schemes to assist Council Tax payers.
With this local power comes responsibility and risk. To manage this risk, Local Authorities will need the ability to access and assess accurate meaningful data about their citizens and to quickly model the impact the changes will no doubt bring.
As the overall expenditure for Council Tax Benefit will be cut by 10% at a local level, having greater control over fewer resources puts Local Authorities in a very difficult position. The management of a demand based benefit from a fixed (and smaller) cash funding pot will prove a significant challenge. Getting your predictions and schemes badly wrong is not an option and any over spending will be at the detriment of the citizens the scheme is intended to serve. With ever increasing pressure on budgets this is clearly not an option.
With so many data sets available, such as existing Benefit Claimants, Council Tax Banding information, liability details and Council Tax Discounts/Exemptions it is how the mass of data can be drawn together and analysed meaningfully. Whilst spreadsheets are powerful in their own right (providing functionality such as pivot tables, formulas and filters) they are not able to process complex data sets, data from multiple sources, cannot provide trend analysis and really are not up to the job that such scheme modelling will demand.
Creating a support scheme is not simply going to be a case of assessing how many of a particular type/group an Authority currently has. Yes, this is required as the starting point, but what is really needed is assessing what the implications will be ‘if we apply X to Y group’ and then modelling this against ‘if we change X what the implications will be to Y’.
To assist Local Authorities devise an effective, balanced and accountable scheme Destin Solutions have developed ‘Evolve’.
This sophisticated modelling tool utilises data warehouse and analytical reporting technology. The application enables Local Authorities to upload their existing data sets, from which they can model the current data, perform calculations against the data and assess the implications of applying various factors and filters to the data set. The data is presented graphically using dashboard technology and the views can be easily changed to provide the perspective that is most pleasing and provides the greatest level of detail. Drill down functionality enables users to move from the high level view right down to the actual claims that make up the data set.
The technology behind Evolve is not new; in fact Destin Solutions already use this technology to produce a sophisticated performance management solution which assists organisations obtain a complete picture of individuals, teams and the overall performance of an organisation. In fact the technology recently helped Dumfries & Galloway Council win the IRRV ‘Best of Scotland Award 2011’. What is new is the ability to upload your own datasets, apply ‘what if’ scenarios to the data warehouse and to model the financial impact of the scenarios.
Looking further forward – As the modelling tool incorporates the claimant’s ages and the various current benefit components, the technology will enable Authorities to assess when claimants will migrate to Universal Credit. This in turn will assist in resource planning for the vulnerable groups, identifying where potential shortfalls in income will apply and enable Authorities to provide early signposting to those affected.
Evolve is a joint product between the IRRV and Destin Solutions. The solution will be demonstrated at the upcoming Benefits Conference in Telford. IRRV Chief Executive David Magor comments, ‘The institute is please to collaborate with Destin on a product which will assist in the ever increasingly important area of modelling and profiling, which is key to maximising an organisation’s potential to better serve its customers’.
If you are interested in discussing how Evolve can assist in not only modelling your existing data but in helping you devise a support scheme please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.