Mid Sussex District Council has been nominated for two national awards for the support it provides when collecting Council Tax and making Benefit payments.
The Council has been shortlisted in the ‘Excellence in Partnership Working’ and ‘Excellence in Social Inclusion’ categories of the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation (IRRV) Performance Awards 2021. The IRRV is a prestigious national body which promotes best practice in the local taxation, benefits and valuation industries.
When residents miss a Council Tax payment, it can be an early indication that something is wrong. Last year, Mid Sussex introduced a new ‘TellJO’ system to help identify vulnerable people who could be facing financial difficulties, poor health or other social problems. The TellJO system enables the Council to automatically send out email and text messages to ask if the resident is OK and find out what difficulties they might be facing. By identifying people who are at risk early, the Council can signpost them to support and help them to improve their circumstances.
The TellJO system has been a huge success, helping over 75% of respondents to request new payment arrangements and providing 46% with immediate debt advice. The support provided by the service has enabled the Council to help residents with a range of complex issues, and this has been recognised by the IRRV with a nomination for the ‘Excellence in Social Inclusion Award’.
Mid Sussex District Council started working with Dukes Bailiffs Ltd in 2020 to improve the support available to people who are facing social and financial issues. The collaboration has been nominated for the ‘Excellence in Partnership Working’ Award, particularly for the way it has supported people throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The Council works with Dukes to help customers find sustainable ways of getting out of debt and identify vulnerable people at an early stage. Dukes work with the local community to provide information about the collection process, signpost people to support, and encourage them to seek help before an enforcement visit is needed and additional fees apply.
The Council’s Revenues and Benefits team now face inspection by an independent panel of judges and the winners will be announced at the IRRV Annual Conference on Thursday 7 October 2021.
Councillor Ruth de Mierre, Mid Sussex District Council Cabinet member for Customer Services said:
“Our Revenues and Benefits team has worked tremendously hard to support local residents and business through this once in a century pandemic, so I’m delighted that their efforts have been recognised with nominations for these IRRV Performance Awards.
“Providing support for our residents who are facing financial and social difficulties is at the heart of everything we do. We’ve made huge strides over the past few years to identify people who may need help at an early stage and this means we can work with them to resolve issues before they get out of control.”