Council tax enquiries are a common topic for people visiting council websites. The changes to council tax support, which result from the implementation of universal credit, may still cause concern, since they still may involve a cutback from the previous council tax benefits scheme.
All shire districts in England (200 councils in all).
Many councils do not explain this task very well; only one-third (32%) achieve our standard. Too often the customer journey was confusing, with inconsistent use of terminology and duplicated, overlapping pages with housing benefits.
Check ‘coverage’ to see if your council has been surveyed. Go to councils page and select your council. Look for link to task report under 2016-17 results
NB Question highlighted in red is an ‘essential question’ that must be answered correctly for the council to meet the standard for this task. Questions highlighted in blue affect star ranking
|Questions to be answered "Yes"|
|• Does the home page lead me directly to the task?||86%|
|• Do the service landing pages for 'Council Tax' and 'Benefits' provide a prominent link that takes me directly to this task?||74%|
|• Can I find out the eligibility criteria for getting Council Tax Reduction?||55%|
|• Does the website enable me to do an online estimate of how much I will get back?||61%|
|• Can I find out what evidence I need to support my claim before I start my application?||38%|
|• Can I apply online for Council Tax Reduction, or download a form to complete online?||46%|
|• Is there information about how long it will take to process your application.||24%|
|• Can I find out when my Council Tax Reduction will start from?||41%|
|• Can I find out if my claim can be backdated or not?||45%|
|• Can I find out how appeals against Council Tax Reduction decisions are made?||54%|
|• Can I found out how Council Tax Reduction is paid back?||33%|
|• Is it clear how I might obtain assistance if required?||67%|
|• Does a Google search lead me to the task?||95%|
|• Does a site search for the task return the correct result listed in the first five results?||87%|
|• Is there an entry in the A to Z index?||76%|
|• Would you recommend that other councils look at this implementation as an example of good practice?||6%|
|Out of date information, answered 'No'|
|• Did you come across any out-of-date information about this task?||17%|
|How effectively is this council promoting this as a task?|
|• How effectively is this council promoting this as a task?||1.9|
|Overall, how do you rate the journey plus task completion?|
|• Overall, how do you rate the journey plus task completion?||1.6|
Finding the task
Completing the task
This is a complex information task and councils were not very good at presenting it clearly and logically.The information tends to be spread across a number of web pages, often unnecessarily. It is confusing that councils often call it ‘council tax support’ rather than council tax reduction. This adds to the ambiguity, making it sound as if this is money you will receive, rather than stating that this is a reduction in the amount of council tax you will have to pay. Few councils clearly stated that what you will receive is a bill for council tax that has been reduced.
There were many issues to do with the customer journey relating to the positioning of content about council tax support and/or reduction. Sometimes there was information under the council tax section that then linked through to a different but somewhat duplicated selection of information in the housing benefits section. This meant that critical information was easy to miss.
My advice is to make the information as concise as possible, put it in a logical order and get it all on one page if possible.
Good journey – the only thing I couldn’t see was when it would start from! Information was all on one page (or linked from that page where more detail required). It was very clearly presented with appropriate level of detail. Benefits calculator integrated into the site, which isn’t normally the case but gives a better journey. Also not loads of extraneous information about how the scheme was decided. People mainly want to know how to claim!
Well promoted and generally well described. Very clear service landing page. Excellent ‘evidence’ page. Even the A to Z entry was first class: “Council Tax Support (formerly Council Tax Benefit)”.
Eureka! Chichester restores my faith in a council’s ability to do council tax well! Outstanding in every possible way!
Very simple and effective content and navigation. Excellent!
Easy to find. Comprehensive information given, accessible language. Easy to browse. Done well.
I really liked the jargon-free approach to this part of the site. Nice layout and formatting.
We assessed this task primarily using navigation from the home page.