Local-Central Digital Eligibility Checking Research Report | March 2016

31 Mar 2016

Overview

In these financially constrained times ensuring that eligibility for scarce public resources is assured has never been more important. However, local authorities currently spend millions of pounds and significant time checking basic eligibility facts, such as driver’s licence, passport, benefits or tax information, before being able to deliver a service.

Most of these eligibility checks rely on the citizen bringing in paper proof, which then gets checked in an often manual, time consuming, paper-based process. Often the citizen has to contact the issuing department and ask for copies of their paperwork – which they then submit to the council!

But many of these key facts sit in central government data sets, or registers.

So, what if we were to create a central-local eligibility checking hub that could use digital techniques and technologies to instantly check the required facts and confirm eligibility? This could unlock hundreds of millions of pounds of efficiency savings. Even better, this would avoid the need to share data between organisations and would help keep our data more secure.

If a citizen can be verified as being who they say they are, for example, using GOV.UK Verify, they could then be asked to give explicit permission for their local authority to carry out an eligibility check. Importantly, this consent-based model ensures that the citizen remains in control of the eligibility checking process.

Our research has identified some of the highest volume local service touchpoints with central government departments. These are predominantly with DWP, HMRC, Home Office and DVLA, and most frequently concern data checks relating to benefits, disability, tax status and rights to rent and work. Millions of transactions each year require eligibility and status checks, making this an opportunity to dramatically improve local services through digital transformation.

The data we have gathered for just seven services suggests national savings for local authorities could be in excess of £100 million per year. In total there are over 50 local government services that could benefit from checking eligibility using central government data, so the potential savings are even greater.

Furthermore, data checks like this will make transactions more secure and help reduce fraud and error at source. This will ensure that only those truly eligible for a service will receive it and help to reduce the estimated £2.1 billion per annum fraud committed against local government.1 We call this a win-win situation: a win for the citizen in need of services and a win for safeguarding the public sector purse.

Read the full report in the PDF below.

Local-Central digital data checking research
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