Case Study: North Yorkshire County Council

Introduction

In April 2019 Family Fund Business Services (FFBS) took over the management of North Yorkshire County Council’s Local Assistance Fund (NYLAF) that supports vulnerable adults and families living with exceptional pressures, with the aim being to keep them living together in the local community.

The fund provides items such as household goods, emergency food and energy top ups to those experiencing severe hardship and/or crisis. Eligible residents can apply for up to two awards in a 12-month period.

Support is primarily targeted at the following groups:

  • carers;
  • families who are under exceptional pressure;
  • individuals recently released from prison;
  • people with learning or physical disabilities;
  • people with mental health problems;
  • people who have a drug or alcohol dependency;
  • those who are homeless; or
  • those who have experienced domestic abuse.

To be eligible for support, applicants must also be able to demonstrate that they:

  • are 16 years old or over;
  • live in, or are moving into North Yorkshire;
  • receive a means-tested benefit or have a household income below the low income threshold (currently £16,105) and less than £1,000 in capital; or
  • have exhausted all other forms of support.
  • are receiving support from an Authorised Agent

Applications are made through authorised agencies who provide support to those who are eligible and are identified as vulnerable.

The programme is promoted on the Council’s website and also via the authorised network of local borough councils, charities and food banks. 

The challenges

It was crucial that the transition from the Council’s internal support centre to FFBS’ team was smooth and didn’t impact on the service provided to the scheme beneficiaries. This required collaboration and careful planning to ensure a smooth handover.

FFBS was able to add to the range of services available through the fund and designed improvements to application, minimising processing time.  It was important that these changes were communicated clearly to the network of agents, to ensure the information being given out remained accurate.

Managing NYLAF required working closely with a diverse set of stakeholders from local borough councils to housing associations and food banks, as well as the registered agency network.

North Yorkshire County Council’s Contract Manager said: “FFBS have worked proactively to ensure that where improvements to the Fund can be made they are identified and implemented quickly, minimising any disruption to the service.”

Our solution

FFBS has over 45 years of grant administration expertise through its parent charity, Family Fund and offers an end-to-end service to North Yorkshire County Council. From processing applications, handling any rejections, placing product orders, managing communications and all due diligence for audit we provide an end-to-end grant administration service. This, in turn, drives efficiencies in the council’s teams and own processes.

By offering a competitive management fee, including a dedicated helpdesk, and great value services we help make the Council’s funds go further.

FFBS provide the council with a dedicated helpdesk service that operates 9am-5pm Monday-Friday to support with any order queries or delivery arrangements. The helpdesk can be accessed directly via our customers’ online account, by email or by telephone making it simple and quick for them to resolve any queries.

Our robust service level agreements and unique business model means products will always be available with a quick turnaround time. This means North Yorkshire County Council can provide help to their beneficiaries when they need it most.

North Yorkshire County Council’s Contract Manager said: “Over the last year FFBS have helped the Council to provide a high quality service to those residents in North Yorkshire who need support from the Fund the most, while also ensuring that best value is achieved through service provision and the award of items.”

The results

Our efficient services allow North Yorkshire County Council to grant awards to their beneficiaries faster than ever. This is especially important due to the vulnerability of the people applying to the Local Assistance Fund.

We offer a holistic service, meaning that the Council has to work with one service provider to deliver their fund in an efficient and streamlined way. We are responsible for their stakeholder and relationship management, helping to drive further efficiencies within their operation.

We offer value for money, providing our products and services while allowing for savings during a time when budgets are restricted for local authorities.


Support during the COVID-19 crisis

North Yorkshire County Council set up the COVID-19 Support Grant Scheme in April 2020 to help individuals and their families who are most in need or most at risk, to access food and energy vouchers to support them through a 14-day period of self-isolation.

Local community support organisations coordinated volunteers who wanted to help their local community, and those most in need during this difficult period. Eligible applicants are granted vouchers to be used to buy food or assist with their energy bill costs. The volunteers then have the opportunity to shop for the goods and deliver them safely to the beneficiary’s home.

FFBS supported North Yorkshire County Council in setting up the COVID-19 scheme in just ten days, processing applications within two working days of receipt (although the time to confirm an award is, on average, within one hour). 

As with the main NYLAF fund, FFBS manages multiple stakeholders to support the COVID-19 scheme including 26 community support organisations across North Yorkshire. Clear communication and careful relationship management has been key to the successful running of the scheme.

A dedicated line of contact has also been set up to allow the FFBS team to respond quickly to queries about the scheme so that those in need during the crisis can be helped when they most need it.