Havering Council – Future Customer Services (Post COVID)
Havering Council officials recently gave a briefing to Elected Members on the current proposals for the local authority’s customer services provision once normal council services can completely resume. Below is a summary of what we were told.
Future Customer Services will be divided into internet/telephone services plus three other areas –
1) Appointment Centre (Town Hall)
2) Libraries (General face-to-face)
3) Community Hubs
There is a recognition by the London Borough of Havering (LBH) that services must be improved.
They are continuing to encourage people to access services via the internet, with an understanding that some may not be able to or want to, and services must be accessible to everyone.
Services requests via the internet have risen from 50% of requests in 2017 to 60% now. Calls to LBH (all calls – not just to switchboard etc.) have risen from 25,000 per month in 2018 to 35,000 now.
Average wait times for calls to be answered rose considerably but have now reduced, although they are still above pre-pandemic levels. There was a severe problem with call waiting times when the Virtual Permits system was recently launched. This has now been resolved.
A replacement for the Love Clean Streets app and other methods of reporting problems to the council, will improve the service both for residents and council employees.
Appointment Centre (Town Hall)
The new Appointment Centre (yet to be opened) will mainly deal with specific complex issues, and will be appointment only.
All ten council libraries are designated for service use. Staff will deal with general enquires and advice relating to things such as Council Tax, benefits, blue badges, parking permits, LBH housing stock repairs and similar things.
Staff will attempt to show people how they can access what they need online but assist directly those unable to do so.
Local Area Co-ordination staff will offer support for people of all ages with complex life situations.
Currently open in Harold Hill and Rainham. Community Hub staff work together with Local Area Co-ordination Services staff from libraries.
They each provide early intervention to prevent issues escalating, and work with other partners regarding things like homelessness prevention, benefits access, housing support, debt advice, health (inc. drugs misuse), isolation, community connections, bereavement support, Citizens Advice and many others.