Doing more with less – it’s a challenge that runs across the public sector. There’s no easy answer to this drive for efficiency, many public organisations are looking at increasing their use of digital solutions to drive greater levels of efficiency in resource hungry tasks.
One area that puts pressure on public finances is the battle with fraud. It is estimated that council tax fraud costs local authorities £131 million a year. And, this figure is increasing at a rate of 32 percent from 2011 statistics.
Like many councils, Stratford-upon-Avon’s district council have a fraud investigation team which focuses on reducing the volume of council tax fraud. To tackle this problem, detailed checks have to be made on individuals and their physical location – so geography plays a significant role in what initially sounds like a purely financial problem.
The council’s investigation team use Ordnance Survey digital and printed maps to assist in precisely identifying locations and making decisions such as whether surveillance on the property is likely to be possible. These assessments frequently able be carried out in the office by using detailed an accurate mapping resources. This can prevent council staff needing to take a lengthy car journey to the location, saving on cost and working hours.
Use of these digital products is made possible thanks to the Public Service Mapping Agreement, which licenses a range of Ordnance Survey digital mapping products to local authorities across England and Wales.
To achieve the council’s goal, Stratford upon Avon district council made use of a number of Ordnance Survey products, including OS MasterMap® Topography Layer, OS Street View® and several Scale Raster mapping products.
They also made use of something called the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) which is a number that uniquely identifies an address, which can be used as a reference to identify individual addresses.
Addressing data in this context can be challenging to work with as over time changes can occur, such as a move from single to multiple occupancy or a change of use from a commercial property to a domestic one.
Overcoming this type of problem using Ordnance Survey mapping data can help councils towards their goal of reducing costs and to do more with less in these challenging times.