Smart projects: Council streamlines processes by putting education benefits online

East Renfrewshire Council links school and back-office systems

East Renfrewshire Council has cut the paperwork used to administer its education benefits by 66% after enabling parents to apply online for school meals and clothing grants.

The Scottish local authority has reduced the number of interview letters sent to parents each year from more than 1,500 to just 495.

Parents are now able to apply for benefits online and discover whether they are entitled to those benefits at the same time.

East Renfrewshire’s IT department developed the online benefits engine on its council-wide revenues and benefits system.

The service was ready for transformation after council leaders transferred it from the community resources department to the corporate customer services department.

By building the portal on the support services department’s main system, the council was able to automatically find much of the documentary evidence needed before education benefits can be awarded.

The council already held the two main proofs of benefit – council tax rebate and housing benefit – on its revenues and benefits system.

Parents applying for education benefits online who are already receiving council tax rebates or housing benefits can now have their claims processed automatically.

The council has removed further bureaucracy by linking the revenues and benefits system to the electronic school roll. Schools no longer have to manually confirm the attendance of applicants for free school meals.

When education benefits were still administered by the community resources department, a separate system was used to capture parents’ applications.

The legacy application had fallen out of support, and also lacked an interface with the revenues and benefits system, so education benefits applications were manually entered twice.

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