Five London boroughs have implemented software from Gandlake that allows local residents to see their council tax accounts online.
Kingston upon Thames, Richmond upon Thames, Sutton, Hackney and Haringey councils are using the software, with almost 6,000 citizens and businesses in London now registered with secure online accounts.
The Gandlake Citizen’s Account software allows users to view and interrogate council tax and business rates balances and statements online, check their previous payment history, and monitor instalment plans and payments received.
Local authorities are seeing a sharp increase in the proportion of residents using online and telephone services to pay their council tax, but the addition of a viewable online account means that there is less demand on council call centre staff as residents can use their accounts to answer simple enquiries themselves.
In Sutton, south London, call centre staff have increased the number of telephone calls answered from 50% to 80% since the introduction of the Citizen’s Account software in March.
Three local authorities – Kingston, Sutton and Richmond – are considering extending the online account service to allow residents to view other payments and accounts online, including benefits, rents, parking permits and licences.
In Kingston, where the Citizen’s Account software has been in use since July 2005, the council is now piloting an e-billing system, also from Gandlake. The billing system will build on Kingston’s approach of using the Government Gateway portal to give residents a trusted means of registering for a secure online identity.
Robin Noble, Kingston’s ICT development manager, said: “The ability to view council tax and business rates balances and statements online is more than just compliance with central government targets.
“We see rapid take-up of our online council services and more efficient revenue collection. We are putting valuable information at the fingertips of citizens and providing more communication channels to interact with the authority.”
John Grice, executive head of customer services, at the London Borough of Sutton, added: “Taking a soft approach to the roll-out we buried the service quite deeply within our website and yet were still receiving two to three requests per day. Now that we’ve moved promotion of the service to the front page of the website we have seen take-up increase to more than 10 requests per day.”