Bringing efficiencies to the new Blue Badge digital service process

Hannah Buckley, Operations Supervisor at Kent County Council

Overview

In late 2018, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that it was withdrawing the Blue Badge Improvement Service (BBIS) in favour of the Blue Badge Digital Service (BBDS). This meant that from February 2019, the DfT’s new system will encompass just the front and back end functionality, therefore leaving each authority to provide their own middle piece – a case management feature, that feeds back into the new BBDS.

Problem

“Many authorities were already using another case management system alongside BBIS, but we weren’t at Kent County Council and this left us in a predicament,” said Hannah Buckley, Operations Supervisor at Kent County Council. The question we asked ourselves was ‘Do we go for what we know, i.e. the legacy solution that could be purchased standalone, or do we use this as an opportunity to explore other options to see if we could realise greater efficiencies?’”

As one of the largest local authorities in the UK, receiving 2,000-2,500 Blue Badge applications per month, the pressure was on, so the Council naturally went for the latter option.

Solution

With no extra funding, each authority needs to be confident that they have a system that works for them so, based on this the Council needed to review its options. Using G-Cloud Digital Marketplace as the procurement tool, the Council formulated its business case.

“There was a number of solutions on the market, yet the majority would not give us the complete service that we required. We, also wanted a solution that was customisable to our processes, tailored to us and not ‘out of the box’, continued Hannah. “After a thorough and balanced evaluation we selected IEG4’s complete solution, as it met all our specification points and will help us in achieving overall greater efficiencies.”

The Council now has a powerful digital service that manages its processes more efficiently which was its main aim. A Blue Badge customer can now go to GOV.UK to apply and go through the new BBDS system, run by Valtech. An API created by IEG4 then seamlessly links the customer to the Council’s system for the actual application process. Once approved, the API links back to the BBDS system which centrally holds all records. At this point the Blue Badge is then produced and sent to the customer centrally by the DfT.

A big addition to this new process is that it makes the process completely paperless. The Council encourages all applications where possible to be completed online and paper applications and correspondence are scanned at point of receipt and they integrate into the system in the same way as the online applications. By removing the paper based processes and digitising it saves the Council time as it eliminates the need for us having to physically look for applications. Everything is online with the entire record held in one place. This makes it a more streamlined journey for customers who need to contact us throughout the application process, enabling the Council to provide a better service for all its end users.

Benefits

Since going live, the Council has seen more efficiencies than with the old system. With the data being fully integrated into the new case management system, it significantly reduces time spent on manual data entry. Hannah comments: “The fact that we can automate correspondence with pre-populated content is a time saver so it immediately makes the application process faster. The system sends a SMS or email to give regular updates to the customer, so they are kept informed and therefore reduces the need for unnecessary contact to our outsourced contact centre provision.”

In addition, the Council has implemented a customer self-service portal. Promoting a self-serve culture provides empowerment to the customer and means emails and calls are reduced. Customers can check the status of their application easily, minimising the need for customers to contact us via other routes and giving the customer greater visibility of the process. Currently the new system reduces case administration by at least eight minutes and within six months of being live, the Council will have a better understanding of the real savings.

The new system is now also fully integrated with other GOV.UK websites such as GOV.UK Notify and GOV.UK Pay and IEG4 carried out this work. This was a plus point as it has negated the need for the Council to do the work themselves and therefore freed up resources further.

Hannah concludes:With the DfT changes now in place, we welcome being able to service our customers in a communication style that best suits them, for the application to run more smoothly in a quicker timeframe and for us as an organisation to realise greater efficiencies as a whole.

With our new system, if we find new processes that require new workflows then this can be done for us. For example, there will be changes to the Blue Badge guidance within the next year. Potentially, we estimate that it could put a 10% increase in pressure on us but we are confident that we have a flexible system in place that can handle any challenges put our way.”