Business Rate and Council Tax reports are generated by sifting through the vast amounts of data held within core revenues and benefits systems. The trick is knowing the right questions to ask to deliver the most valuable insights that will empower management teams to make better, smarter decisions based on evidence and facts not perceptions and myth.
This month’s blog article focuses on Business Rates and Council Tax reports which can be run and highlights some of the most popular reports delivering the biggest returns.
1. Collection Levels
First up is analysis on Collection Levels, this report highlights at any point in time how a team are performing. It should drill down into collection levels split between different geographical areas. This is important because it allows managers to see if there are any specific areas which are underperforming. Once these areas are identified you can decide whether you want to take resources from more successful areas for a specific time period, to help boost collections, or if a change in the approach to collections in that area is required. At a glance authorities can see where they are against target and take proactive action as problems are flagged rather than facing the issue nearer year-end when options become more limited.
2. Year-End Balances
This report is the one that Management is judged on, collection performance is published each year and the data made available publicly so Authorities are effectively ranked in league tables on their ability to collect. It is also this information which tends to be subject to a lot of Freedom of Information Requests. This report should provide Authorities with a current day position of year-end balances, you should also be able to see a middle year view if required, ultimately it provides you with a better understanding of where you are at that point in time, enabling you to forecast based upon real data, the estimated year-end position. Drilling down further you should be able to look at year-end balance by different recovery stages enabling you to, for instance, view how much is at bailiff stage and what amount is outstanding in relation to this. This helps Authorities to keep moving collections along to the next stage and stops cases falling through the gaps.
3. Bailiff Payments
Regardless of whether you have Bailiffs in-house, use an external company or a mixture of both, this report is invaluable in identifying the effectiveness and performance of them, particularly if you want to compare one against the another. Operating outside your core Revenues and Benefits systems, it’s important to be able to track and analyse the payments received from the Bailiff and the percentage of payment received within specific time frames. You should be able to report on how long cases have been at Bailiff stage, how much was paid and how long it has been since any payments or action has been taken. With this detail in front of you, you can have a meaningful discussion with your Bailiff about performance on an individual case level.
4. Days Since Payment
A highly useful and effective report identifying again where things may be falling through the gaps, this report shows how many days there has been since the last payment of Council Tax or Business Rates was made by an individual. It also identifies the amount of cases where no payment has been made within the last 3 months or 6 months or whatever time parameters you wish to search by. It enables Authorities to identify quickly and accurately if payments aren’t coming through as they should, so that the appropriate action can be taken. In some cases, this could result in Authorities applying for an Attachment of Earnings Order more rapidly as the issue of non-payment is flagged with them sooner.
5. Aged Debt Analysis
Last but not least we have aged debt analysis, this allows an Authority to run a report on the amount of debt they have outstanding over any given time frame they wish to analyse. The analysis can be further drilled down into, by sorting based on value of debt, so you may want to see all debt over £5K or £10K for example. It allows an Authority to try to understand why certain debts have been outstanding for a length of time and to take appropriate action to identify if people have simply disappeared in which case a trace service might be useful or whether the debt may need to be written off. It effectively helps Councils to draw conclusions and make decisions for debt write-offs more quickly. It is particularly useful for identifying those cases that are approaching the stage where they become “statute barred” because there has been no action on the account for 6 years, enabling enforcement action to be taken before this.
With data increasingly being perceived as a strategic asset, Local Authorities should be making the most of the data they have access to, ensuring it forms the basis for better balancing budgets and managing resources. With the right reporting tools and capabilities Councils can work smarter by tapping into the information that is just lying there waiting to be uncovered.