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Council Tax could go paperless

Created on 03/03/2021 @ 07:10
Powys County Council’s move towards paperless operations will mean many people receiving their Council Tax bills online only. 

At meeting of the Economy, Residents Communities and Governance, scrutiny committee, councillors were given an update on how Powys County Council’s digital strategy up to 2025, is coming along, with paperless billing one strand of the strategy.

Head of customer services  Kelly Watts, said: “One of the areas we’re moving towards in Council Tax and Business Rates is paperless billing.

“All being well, we are hoping our customers will be able to sign up via their ‘My Account’ to receive a Council Tax bill through that, rather than through the door on paper. That’s a real improvement and a cost saving in paper and postage.

“We’re hoping to have that in place for the next round of Council Tax bills, but there’s still quite a lot of work on that to do.”

Due to the pandemic, the use of digital services has accelerated, and Ms Watts said that this had seen a reduced number of calls coming through to the authority, allowing staff to pick up calls quicker and spend more time with residents who are not able to do things digitally.

Committee chairman, Cllr Mathew Dorrance, said: “This is an ambitious strategy, there’s clearly lots of potential to change the way the council works and make it simpler for people to contact the council.”

He asked how the strategy was being funded?
Head of digital, Diane Reynolds, said: “We were funded to just over £900,000 for three years by the Welsh Government, which was matched by the council’s Transformation Fund.”

She added that a condition with the Welsh Government funding is that PCC share the “learning of their digital journey” with other councils and health boards.

Ms Reynolds said that bringing new technology online to replace the old also brought its own savings.

She said that her department is “on track” to deliver £200,000 in savings this financial year.

Portfolio holder for Corporate Governance, Engagement and Regulatory Services Cllr Graham Breze, said: “This is a very important update because it contains so much of real importance to the future running of this authority, and the safety and well being of our residents.

“While digitisation of the authority remains key, we are not forgetting those who are less comfortable online, it’s vitally important that channels are kept open, and they can speak to someone at Powys when they feel the need.”

The aim of the strategy is:

quicker and easier customer interaction with the council
using the new online tools will help support people to live independently in their communities
better working partners to safeguard our most vulnerable people
support business communities to thrive in the digital age
services will be joined up through shared information and technology
focus limited resources on providing services that improve well-being.