Govtech Solutions

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Govtech Solutions is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Managing Director
We support a cycle of
continuous analysis and
Govtech Solutions Ltd are specialist providers of digital
integration services to English, Scottish and Welsh councils.
They integrate and automate the processing of millions
of council tax, business rates and benefit claim transactions
submitted online by citizens, landlords and businesses. Instead of
charging for their consultants’ time, they believe this is all part of
their service offering, and they provide continuous analysis and
improvement to their clients. Managing Director Andrew Melvin
explains the benefits of their system and calls for the voices of
SMEs to be given greater prominence.
The administration, billing and collection of £64 billion of council tax and
business rates income from 22 million households and over 2 million businesses
are governed by a myriad of legislative and regulatory rules. Our digital process
automation services validate each transaction against existing council records,
check compliance with legislation and local business rules, and then determine
what should be done. Around 80 per cent of what councils used to do manually
is now automated. Business rules trigger interventions on the other 20 per cent.
When triggered, each intervention is automatically classified as a high, medium or
low-priority item and sent to a work queue with an explanation for the case officer.
Councils get much more from their staff, who now work only on things which
require their expertise.
As an SME, we are completely focused on our customers. When we founded the
business, we wanted to do things differently. Councils buy technology to achieve
a set of business outcomes so we don’t sell licenses or help desk support. We
»Managing Director:
»Founded in December 2005
»Location: Cirencester,
»Services: Provider of digital
integration services to councils
»No. of employees: 40+
»ISO 27001 accredited
information security
management system
»Millions of complex online
transactions automated
»Over 5 million citizens,
students, landlords and
businesses connected to their
Govtech Solutions
Highlighting best practice
are paid for the timely and accurate
automation of digital transactions and
other online service requests.
We are a service company and our
values are consistent with that. We
value long-term relationships based
on trust and mutual benefit. We
conduct regular service optimisation
reviews with customers, analyse their
automation rates, identify specific
business rules and procedures
which prevent greater automation,
benchmark each council’s performance
against others, and provide the
information they need to challenge
and change outdated processes and
procedures. We don’t tell councils
how to change their business, but
we do explain what they are doing
differently to others. We don’t charge
for our consultants’ time. We know
what our digital process automation
services can do, and we think it is
part of our service obligation to help
each customer fully exploit them by
supporting a cycle of continuous
analysis and improvement.
When we engage with a prospective
new customer, it is always on the
basis of a business case. We know
precisely what levels of automation can
be achieved and how much manual
processing resource this will save.
More compelling business cases are
based on moving staff up the value
chain. For example, Kirklees MBC
based its business case not on reducing
costs, but on collecting more revenue.
Ten full-time equivalents were freed
up by digital process automation and
redeployed into debt recovery. Over
the following three years, rather than
save around £750,000 in staff costs,
Kirklees reduced its aged council tax
arrears by £5 million.
The challenge of growing
Like many SMEs, we sometimes
struggle to be heard. We have to
work hard to overcome the scepticism
felt as a consequence of unfulfilled
promises made by others in the past. In
our early years, we had no choice but
to do business indirectly, with bigger
companies badging our services and
squeezing our margins. The Cabinet
Office G-Cloud initiative changed that
by providing an inexpensive, quick
and non-bureaucratic OJEU-compliant
procurement channel for councils
and government to engage directly
with SMEs. Much of our growth
has since come from contracting
directly with councils. We can’t praise
We grew by specialising in two council
service areas: revenues and benefits.
Councils provide an extremely broad
range of public services, and since we
are very good at joining up systems
and data, we are in a strong position
to help councils exploit new artificial
intelligence techniques. The very broad
range of separate systems used by
councils means they are currently data
rich and information poor. Helping
to change that is a huge opportunity
We like being an SME. We are open,
friendly, nimble and responsive. Yet if
we are to fulfil our collective potential,
we need to grow in size. The biggest
Trust in business is
Councils buy
technology to
achieve a set
of business
outcomes. So
we don’t
sell licenses or
help desk
support. We
are paid for
the timely and
automation of
challenge we face is to grow without
changing our culture. We know that
as companies get bigger, they become
more bureaucratic and the distance
between decision-makers and clients
gets wider. We are determined to
prevent that happening here. We will
avoid it with employee empowerment,
open communications and strong,
flexible teamwork.
Past, present and future
The financial crash in 2008/9 and
the subsequent period of austerity
were significant events in the
company’s history. With anxious banks
withdrawing credit to improve their
own balance sheets, we recapitalised
our business and have been debt-free
ever since. Austerity had a profound
effect on councils. Once they realised
it was the new norm, austerity
unleashed a willingness to look afresh
at everything they were doing and
seek new ways of delivering services.
This proved to be very good for us, as
necessity once again showed itself to
be the mother of invention.
Trust in private business has fallen as
a consequence of the financial crisis a
decade ago and more recently from
the accounting practices of large
multinationals. All businesses are
affected by falling levels of trust. Yet
96 per cent of businesses in the UK
employ fewer than ten employees.
The first few years for a start-up are
about sacrifice and survival. If you get
through that, the sense of achievement
is great. We are an ethical company,
Living Wage Foundation accredited
and a flexible and supportive employer
with very low rates of staff turnover.
Our employees share in our success
with profit-related bonuses. We train
and promote from within, support local
charities and engage in community
events. There are thousands of
businesses like ours, but their stories
are rarely heard. We must do more to
rebuild trust in business and inspire the
next generation ofentrepreneurs.
The very
broad range
of separate
systems used
by councils
means they
are currently
data rich and
Better exploitation of data reduces
Even at its simplest, a change of
address is a valuable piece of corporate
information. We notify council tax
changes of address to multiple systems
and services. A missed payment
triggers a debt-recovery process. Yet
a missed payment is often the first
indication that something has gone
wrong in a vulnerable household. If a
tenant in difficulty is ultimately evicted,
it will cost the council £10,000 so a
missed payment triggering pre-emptive
contact from a support worker, rather
than just an arrears letter, makes
perfect sense. Similarly, the DWP’s
Universal Credit system notifying a
change in income, due to a change
in household composition, might
more valuably trigger a review for a
household with a child on the “at risk”
register. Millions of transactions
integrated and

This article was sponsored by Govtech Solutions. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.