A scheme to modernise processes at Lichfield District Council could help cut food bank usage, the local authority’s leader has said.
The Being A Better Council scheme aims to use data and technology to improve systems and create more efficiencies.
Cllr Doug Pullen, leader of the Conservative-controlled council, said the he hoped residents would see real benefits from the revamp in future.
“We see frequent reports of rising food bank usage among residents.
“It currently takes more than two weeks to process claims – but the use of food banks is often linked to people waiting for benefits, particularly if they are applying for a new benefit.
“If we can reduce that time by half a week or even week then that would also reduce demand for the services of food banks.”Cllr Doug Pullen, Lichfield District Council
Cllr Pullen also sought to allay fears that the use of technology would make it more difficult for people to speak to a person about any issues they have.
He insisted the proposals were about making it easier for residents to interact with the council through whatever method they prefer.
“Our residents and businesses don’t compare us to Birmingham City Council or Tamworth Borough Council, they compare us to interactions they have with the likes of Amazon, Uber or their insurance company – we need to make the experience similar for them.
“It’s a high bar we’re setting, but others are doing this by using technology and software to remove human processes and free people up.
“The art of doing this well is that residents and businesses only see a positive change.
“It certainly isn’t about moving to automated calls, but if, for example, someone wants a certificate of lawfulness then they should be able to apply and then we have software that can spin out a certificate automatically.
“There will always be human interaction, but if people want it online then why wouldn’t we want to give them that option?
“Doing so also means we can free up staff time to help others who do need support via other means.”Cllr Doug Pullen, Lichfield District Council