Liverpool’s £5m benefits and council tax system goes live

Trial migrations helped guarantee success.

Liverpool City Council has completed a six-week data migration project to get its £5m housing benefit and council tax system running.

IT staff moved 200,000 council tax accounts and details of 80,000 housing benefits claims from its 14-year old legacy VME mainframe.

The replacement system is run by Liverpool Direct, a joint venture company set up by the council and BT in 2001. It uses iWorld software from SX3, Oracle 8i database technology, and two Sun E10K servers.

"The systems were so different that it was a major undertaking. That is why we did three trial migrations before we did the big one," said project manager Brendan Lavelle. "Because the new system is Oracle and browser-based, it can integrate with other web-enabled systems and allows for enhanced integration."

The new system, which also handles non-domestic rates, has already been linked to the council’s Electronic Document Management System, introduced in March. The council is also hoping to integrate with other systems. A spokesman said this would not have been possible with the previous system.

The council was criticised in the summer for accumulating a backlog of 8,000 claims during the transition to the replacement system. Claims were processed manually between mid-August and 6 October, when the new system went live.

The council now processes about 2,500 claims a week, as well as dealing with about 3,500 other items, such as council tax cancellations and adjustments. Officials said the backlog would be cleared by Christmas.

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