Councils can trace thousands owed and falsely claimed with new services from Equifax and Destin Solutions

empty property reviewAdding to our growing solutions portfolio, we are pleased to announce the launch of a new range of services designed to help Councils close in on debt and fraudulent activity.

Working with business insights expert Equifax, we can extract relevant datasets from Council debt systems using our VISION reporting tool and check them against a number of Equifax data matching and analysis tools.

New services available include ‘VISION Empty Property Review’ designed to help identify where properties have become recently occupied and are subject to Council Tax collection. Typically a mid-sized Council will have circa 3,000 properties listed as unoccupied at any one time but this changes on a daily basis. This service helps Councils proactively keep on top of their empty properties list and quickly identify new revenue opportunities.

Tackling fraud within Councils the ‘VISION Single Person Discount Fraud Review’ service indicates properties where more than one adult may be resident. This helps eliminate false and incorrect claims which in 2014 cost authorities £39 million in England alone.

Local Authority debt write-offs is another big area for focus, as Councils cope with ever dwindling budgets and reduced government grants, increasing emphasis is put on chasing outstanding debt and arrears. The ‘VISION Trace Service’ will help Councils trace debtors when they have left a property and provided no forwarding address. It works by taking debtor data and running it through a number of Equifax data checks and queries to help identify where that person is now living.

Duncan Baxter, Director at Destin Solutions goes on to say “we have already had a lot of interest from existing clients. Both Lancaster and Preston Council have already used the VISION Empty Property Review service.” Julie Smethurst, Revenues Manager from Preston and Lancaster Shared Service commented “Over 1,600 properties were checked across Preston and Lancaster and in Preston 24% of the properties which were reviewed and earmarked for a physical visit were found to be occupied and 16% of those visited in Lancaster were occupied. This has generated additional revenue for both authorities and in the cases where it has brought long term properties back into use they also qualify for a ‘new homes bonus’ resulting in additional income for each authority.”

Nicola Herrick, Account Director, Public Sector at Equifax commented “by using our data matching and analysis tools, Destin Solutions helps Councils tackle false or incorrect claims and get back what is rightfully owed to them. For example, Destin’s VISION tool can be used to sort and consolidate debtor and property information to identify all current properties listed as empty. When this data is then checked using Equifax’s proprietary technology, Councils can quickly and easily identify which properties are likely to be occupied and add these properties to the Council Tax collections database.”

Additional services are also scheduled to be developed over time focusing on individual credit checks for specific Council debtors and commercial credit checks for Business Rate Payers.

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