Bucks Council announces countywide upgrade to benefits system which could cause temporary closure
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The merger will cause temporary closures to the service the council currently provides.
Aylesbury and Wycombe residents who currently access the same system, are expected to face a five-week shut down.
Bucks Council has authorised the changes in an attempt to create a more efficient single system for all revenues and benefits functions.
People in Bucks use this system for council tax, business rates and benefits access.
The Chiltern and South Bucks systems will merge with the Aylesbury and Wycombe service to create a unified system for the entire county.
Bucks Council has listed the following benefits and features that the new system will bring:
Improved customer self-service functions and real-time notifications of their transactions Reduction in administration and an increase efficiency allowing council staff more time to spend on customers with priority and complex needs A reduction in printing and postage costs Increasing the council’s ability to improve collection rates which can be used to pay for essential services New system makes it easier to check claims are correct and to clamp down on fraud
While the Aylesbury and High Wycombe system is expected to be down for five weeks, during the merger the Chiltern and South Bucks service will be down for 11.
During this process, over 20 million items will be migrated, and 1.5 million resident accounts will be converted, Bucks Council says.
Councillor Tim Butcher said: “We realise that the temporary system closure may cause some inconvenience, but the vast majority of residents and businesses in Buckinghamshire will not be impacted. Payments and Direct Debits will continue as normal.
“Critically, support and help will remain available for anyone experiencing significant financial hardship and all requests will be dealt with as a matter of urgency. In addition, our online forms will remain live, and our Customer Support team can still be contacted.
“Residents and businesses will still be able to notify us of changes to their existing circumstances. However, our Revenues and Benefits team won’t be able to action these requests until the new system is implemented at the end of October.
“Once the system goes live, customers will have more self-service options available, plus our support teams will have extra time to spend helping customers with priority and complex needs.”
The temporary system shutdown is due to start on Monday 15 August for Chiltern and South Bucks systems, and Thursday 22 September for the Aylesbury and Wycombe system.
The target date to have the new system up and running is Thursday 27 October.
Bucks Council advises that a majority of residents will be unaffected during the closedown period and council tax direct debit and standing order collections, housing benefit payments and all online payments will continue as normal.
Residents can also phone the local authority on 0300 1316000 and can keep track of the changes on the council website here.