Call centre to save money

A CALL centre dealing with public inquiries on council services – which will cost Suffolk taxpayers £30million over the next 10 years – will deliver enormous savings in efficiency and costs, it has been claimed.

A CALL centre dealing with public inquiries on council services – which will cost Suffolk taxpayers £30million over the next 10 years – will deliver enormous savings in efficiency and costs, it has been claimed.

Project chiefs defended the scheme last night as they began trying to recruit five posts - senior Information Technology (IT) managers, field operations and customer staff – each carrying a salary up to £47,000 and one of £37,000.

Around 650 council employees will be involved in the project, all of whom are currently employed across local authority departments, undertaking some function in dealing with inquiries from the public.

Suffolk County Council and Mid Suffolk District Council have signed up to the project.


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Customer Service Direct Limited (CSDL) is a co-venture between the two councils and BT. Over the 10 year life of the contract, BT will pump in £50m, the county council £30m and Mid Suffolk £8m.

Bob Cunningham, chief executive, said: "The bulk of the public of Suffolk neither understands nor wants to understand which local authority or public body provides services. By giving them one telephone number to call, they will be able to speak to a customer service operator who will be able to put them through to the right person to deal with their inquiry.

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With BT bearing the bulk of the start-up costs, Mr Cunningham added: "The net effect on the council tax payer is absolutely neutral. What residents will get is a highly advanced and technological service rather than the existing, cottage industry approach to dealing with the public."

The recruitment of six managers at a combined cost in excess of £300,000 were key positions said Mr Cunningham while Suffolk county council leader Bryony Rudkin insisted no new money was being used to paying for them.

"The cash is from our existing budgets at the county council and Mid Suffolk, so there is absolutely no impact on council tax," said Mrs Rudkin.

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