A pilot scheme to introduce online assistance at Crewkerne Community Office in the town hall begins in September. South Somerset District Councillor Angie Singleton said: “Crewkerne has been chosen to pilot the way that customers will engage with the district council when the new process goes live in January.”
In a further statement from SSDC, a spokesman stated: “The SSDC’s Transformation Programme is an ambitious and exciting project which is all about putting our customers first – that’s our residents, businesses and partners. It is about building the council of the future, a modern, flexible and efficient council able to deliver better services and outcomes for South Somerset in the context of significantly less funding. The council is currently rethinking the way it operates with the aim of launching a new way of working, very different to how council’s traditionally have operated, in January 2019.”
The District Council’s Transformation Programme aims at getting more customers online with 24/7 online access to a new customer facing website, with the option for residents to create their own personal account, allowing users to access council services online as and when they are needed. Users will also be able to access all the information that is relevant to them from events, information about their local area and key contacts and will have the ability to pay for all council services online.
The Transformation Programme will see revisions and improvements made to the customer service points, such as in Crewkerne town hall and where it is not possible for enquiries to be conducted online, support will be made available from council advisors.
Dedicated council employees at the community office in Crewkerne have been providing invaluable over the counter support and advice for many years on a wide range of district council services including: Housing Benefit, Council Tax, Housing, Waste & Recycling, Community Protection & Safety, Horticulture Damage and Streetscene and have also provided public access to the Homefinder website for housing applications and bidding.
SSDC have confirmed that the transformation process will involve removing some of the existing roles in the Council but say that hundreds of new roles and responsibilities to enable staff to better meet the needs of residents and businesses are being created. Cllr Jo Roundell Greene, South Somerset District Council’s deputy leader and portfolio holder for Transformation said: “We will have a modern, effective, highly skilled council that is better able to deal with the needs of the 21st Century.”
The Bank of England’s Chief Economist Andy Haldane recently warned of the dark side of the technological revolution, in which artificial intelligence (machines and software) could effectively replace many jobs currently held by people and that this would have long term implications on the jobs market and on peoples livelihoods.