Apprentices who work in Revenues and Benefits administration contribute positively to the well-being of their communities. schools, the police, street cleaning and local social services rely on the efficient collection of local revenues and the less well off in society rely on the efficient administration of Housing and Council Tax benefit.
Local Revenues and Benefits are administered by Local Authorities in Wales which includes District Councils and Unitary Authorities. There are a growing number of private companies who are contracted to provide benefit services to local councils. There may be possibilities to work for local Housing Associations and Citizens Advice Bureau offering advice on benefits. This is a new apprenticeship at Level 3 and the entry point into the sector.
Local Government employs 10,000 within the Benefits sector and 10,000 within the Local Taxation sector. Some local authorities find it difficult to recruit experienced staff who are prepared to travel and rely on agency staff which can be expensive. In addition to this there can be problems in recruiting First Line Managers and Senior Managers who have the right skills. There is a need to ‘home grow’ local talent.
The challenges facing the sector are as follows:
- Legislation – the need to keep up to date with constant changes to benefit and revenue legislation;
- Maintaining high levels of service with reduced budgets;
- Detecting fraudulent claims and overpayments – this has become a big focus for Local Authorities and resources have had to be diverted to this area;
- Ensuring local people, including businesses, are aware of their entitlements;
- Front line customer service skills to meet customer demands.
The future competences which are required are as follows:
- Management & Leadership – being able to implement organisational and culture change, coaching and supporting staff with legislative changes;
- Using specialist in-house ICT systems;
- Investigative & analytic skills to detect fraud;
- Skills & Knowledge – understanding and implementing changes in legislation and avoiding and spotting errors in calculations.
The apprenticeship will help to bring younger people into the sector to allow career progression and to assist with hard to fill vacancies.
Employers have been involved in the design of the qualifications in the framework which will develop the critical skills required within the sector. The Framework has been developed to meet the skills priorities for Wales and the requirements of the Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for Wales.
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