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News shots …. 18 April 2016



Preston and Lancaster identify council tax extras

Neighbouring local authorities in Lancashire have found new council tax revenues with a property review software. Preston and Lancashire have begun to use the Vision Empty Property Review system from Destin Solutions to identify properties that have recently been occupied and become subject to council tax collection.

The system checks against data matching and analysis tools held by credit referencing agency Equifax to update a council's list of unoccupied properties on a daily basis.

Julie Smethurst, revenues manager for their shared service, said: “Over 1,600 properties were checked across Preston and Lancaster, and in Preston 24% of the properties 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 review 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.”

Destin has also released the Vision Single Person Discount Fraud Review service, which identifies when more than one adult lives in a property to prevent fraudulent claims of the discount, and the Vision Trace Service. The latter helps councils to trace debtors when they have left a property with no forwarding address.


Devon libraries get Advanced

Devon's library service has signed up to use the Advanced Exchequer cloud hosted software and mobile app, giving staff access to accounts data while out of the office.

Libraries Unlimited South West, the not-for-profit organisation which took over management of the service from Devon County Council on 1 April, is deploying the system to more than 300 staff across more than 50 sites. It will integrate the software with the library management system, and equip senior managers with eXchequer365 to approve orders and access income and expenditure information.

Paul Love, interim head of finance and operations for Libraries Unlimited, said that the service being hosted in the cloud would save the organisation from developing a technical infrastructure.

BACS waves direct debit flag

Bacs Payment Schemes, the not-for-profit behind direct debits in the UK, has called on more councils to get behinds its campaign to promote the use of direct debits for council tax payments. It has said that by taking part in the campaign local authorities can promote a £5,000 centrally funded prize to their residents and take advantage of a range of free marketing materials.

Bacs’ local authority sector specialist, Dawneth Perry, said: “Over the last six years our local authority campaigns have saved almost £2.5m for participating organisations. We now want to help drive these cost efficiencies for local authorities across the country through this joined-up collective approach.”

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