People who are in financial difficulties can now get easier access to the support and help they need thanks to changes being introduced by Leeds City Council.
As part of a major overhaul of services, called Citizens@Leeds, the council is making improvements to the way residents are able to access its services to help tackle poverty and deprivation in the city.
In order to meet modern expectations and customer demands, which are more 24/7 and on-line in nature, the council is changing the way it delivers its digital, face to face and telephone services.
Since November, when the Citizens@Leeds programme was introduced, the council has made a number of changes to how it residents are able to contact services and receive information online. This includes implementing a web chat service on the council’s website and using social media to engage, and communicate with citizens.
A key project the council is now working on is how to help people who are unable to make use of the internet and computer facilities, either because of limited access to the necessary equipment or through lack of confidence or ability.
Since November progress has also been made in redesigning the council’s contact centre to ensure that customer issues can be dealt with at the first point of contact. The redesign is bringing teams together to provide a more streamlined service to callers and to deal with more complex calls. The council’s aim is to create three ‘centres of excellence’ within the contact centre, focussed on: welfare, benefits and revenues; health and well-being; and environment and community infrastructure.
As well as making council services more accessible, work is also underway with West Yorkshire Police to move their Neighbourhood Policing Teams to the community hubs to ensure closer working with the council as well as increasing their presence in local communities. This new way of working, which includes providing ‘pop-up’ and mobile services in places like supermarkets and GP surgeries, has already led to improved service delivery at each hub.
Executive board members agreed that over the next year the council should look at creating community hubs city-wide to further improve integration of council services and partner organisations.
Coun Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “We want to do all we can to stop people suffering and help them get out of poverty and over the past year we have been working hard to make sure that our citizens can easily access the information and help they need to help them turn their lives around.
“These are major changes we are introducing, and they are all designed to make it simpler for our residents to speak to the right people, get the right advice and in a more efficient and timely way.
“Not only have the number of people wanting to access advice services increased, but the way people are getting hold of the advice is changing too – more than ever people are turning to online services or using their mobile or tablet devices to gather information. This is why we are redesigning our services to make sure they are modern and accessible and meet the needs of the most vulnerable people in our city.”