Vale of Glamorgan Council has worked in partnership with DEF Software, the specialist provider of planning and building control solutions for local authorities, in order to create and implement a new housing module that will streamline the management of housing grants in the local area.
The module, which is first of its type, enables the housing team to manage the grants application process from start to finish, beginning with the initial application all the way through to monitoring the works, inspecting the site, and performing regular checks.
The data from these different stages is stored on an internal database which provides the team with a clear view of every application, as it moves through each stage.
With DEF’s housing module in place, the team benefits from a completely joined-up system. Unlike the Council’s previous system — which included a disparate content management system — all documentation and finance information is now available in one place. A mail merge functionality also adds an element of automation to emails, linking up with a single data source to send personalised batch emails to recipients.
Fiona Lambert, Business Support Manager at the Vale of Glamorgan Council said: “As a local authority, we are always looking for digital solutions that will make our processes more efficient. DEF’s housing module will make our day-to-day work much easier, with that single view enabling the team to take applicants through the grants process much more quickly and seamlessly. There is also a very personalised feel to it — we have been able to adapt the software and make it our own, tailoring it to the needs of our local community.”
DEF’s software has been in place at the council since at least 1998 in the form of development management and building control and from 2016 for local land charges. A new audit requirement arose for the Council to deliver a more robust solution, and after trialling an in-house model based on the use of spreadsheets, the team sought out a solution from DEF Software. With DEF’s other modules already in use across the Council, the housing grants management system was added on, integrating with the existing components.
Graeme Cooke, Commercial Director at DEF Software commented: “Having an easy-to-use system to process applications for their entire life cycle is an important piece of the digital network of any Council. We are pleased to offer this new module to our customer base and to be supporting Vale of Glamorgan as one of our first customers to use it. We’re excited to see the team gain the efficiencies they need to manage their volume of work. It’s the result of a partnership between the two teams, and a joint commitment to,digital progress that will improve service delivery.”
To complete the implementation, DEF worked closely with Vale of Glamorgan through remote sessions with the wider team including the Housing Grants Officer and the Council’s Finance Officer, whose input was vital in ensuring the financial efficiency of the project. This resulted in a module which was built specifically for the needs of the Council.
Lambert concluded: “Working with DEF has been such a collaborative process. Their response to this project, and the commitment that they gave us, worked really well. lf, in the future, we wanted to implement further modules or software in general, we know that the team would give that same level of attention to the project, and demonstrate a real understanding of our needs as a local authority.”