Following an Official Journal of the European Union procurement a private sector supplier was awarded a contract in January 2005 to provide the Rate Collection Agency with a managed Information Communications Technology service. This included the development of an integrated revenue collection and housing benefit system.
Migration of data between the old and new rate collection systems has caused some problems but the majority of these were due to the poor quality of data in the old system. While efforts were made to correct erroneous data prior to data migration, it was not possible to identify and correct all the issues. Most of these issues have now been resolved.
The new IT system is being introduced on a phased basis. Phase 1, the collection and billing system, went live in October 2006. Phase 3, the replacement of the existing owner-occupied housing benefit system, is due for completion during March 2007. An interface was required to update the new collection and billing system with information from the existing housing benefit system. The complexity of replicating and modifying the interface has been challenging. The agency is working with its suppliers to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
Average turnaround times apply to those cases where all the information necessary to assess entitlement has been received from the applicant. The average turnaround time achieved to 15 September 2006 was 13 days. Work is currently ongoing to ensure turnaround time improves.