Shropshire, UK, Feb 23, 2023 - Shropshire Council wants to reduce the the number of hours operated by its customer service centre (CSC) – from 50 hours a week to 30, some 55 per cent of those available at the moment.
The authority has said it wants to launch a consultation with the public on the proposals, although it does acknowledge that the plan has risks, particularly for some older residents who may be "digitally excluded".
The centre currently operates from 8am to 6pm – Monday to Friday, and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays.
There are four different options being put forward – 9am to 3pm from Monday to Friday; 10am to 4pm from Monday to Friday; 9am to 3.30pm on Monday and Tuesday, 9am to 3pm on Wednesday and Thursday, and 10am to 3pm on Friday; 9am to 5pm on Monday and Tuesday, and 9am to 3pm on Wednesday to Friday.
A paper on the plan, to be considered by the council's Performance and Management Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday, says that the cut in in the service would save money – around £93,000 per year.
The council centre currently handles public contact for more than 50 council departments, including specialist services such as adults and children’s concerns, homelessness and local welfare fund, alongside "more transactional service requests" such as highways, waste, registrars and planning.
The paper on the proposal says that the most sensitive issues would still be dealt with by people over the phone.
It states: "The proposed changes would affect only the more generalist non-emergency service requests handled by the CSC.
"The opening times of other more complex council services, including first point of contact for adults and children’s services, homelessness calls, or calls to the local welfare support team for financial support, would not change."
The council says that it wants to strike balance, where people are encouraged to use more online services.
The report states: "As the council’s online services continues to develop, it is recommended that we balance the cost of continuing to provide a full telephony service against encouraging Shropshire’s residents to access online services and information, achieving the same outcome in many cases with higher levels of useful information available to the council at a considerably lower cost."
It adds: "The estimated cost of each telephone call is £2.83, compared to £0.15 per online transaction."
The authors do accept that the changes might have a negative impact on those who do not have access to online services, or are not confident in using them.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Published: Monday, February 27, 2023
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