A recent success of the Tauranga City Council’s Innovation Lab (now closed) was a trial of an online rates rebate application. The project, chosen to demonstrate the value of using digital applications to streamline government processes, was undertaken locally, along with software developers working at central government’s Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) Service Innovation Lab.
It was designed to make the rebate process easier for its customers – citizens in Tauranga. Former TCC Innovation Lab manager Pip Loader said the DIA collaborated with Tauranga City Council’s innovation team to learn whether allowing residents to apply for rebates online would simplify the process, saving administration costs for Council and encouraging more people to check eligibility.
Rates rebates provide low-income homeowners to get discounts or partial refunds of up to $620 on property rates. Any homeowner may receive a rebate for the property they live in, as long as they meet the criteria.
Pip Loader who ran the project for the (now closed) Tauranga City Council Innovation Lab said while the team won’t know the full benefits of the pilot until later this year, early feedback indicates the process is simpler to understand and straightforward to finish. “The pilot has meant that it is easier for people to determine if they are eligible thanks to a simple calculator included as part of the process.”
The digital calculator is based on policies and legislation that have been turned into code to determine who can receive the rebate. The DIA is now working to get changes made to legislation so homeowners won’t have to visit council offices at all - everything could be filled in and signed off online on the app. Siobhan McCarthy, with DIA’s Service Innovation Lab in Wellington, said Tauranga was the only community to take part in the development and roll out of the online rates rebate trial.
Before starting, the team spent a month researching the issue, mapping out the service and speaking with people who had sought a rebate in the past. McCarthy wrote on her blog, “We found users that had gone through days of effort to apply, only to discover they were entitled to 30 cents... It is a real pain point for users, Council and Central Government.” McCarthy said the DIA is hoping the Tauranga pilot project will enable government to activate online rates rebates nationally. Included ‘that was easier than I thought!’ and, signalling the desire from the community for digital solutions, ‘I didn’t know government things could be simple like this.’
The TCC rates rebate project and its app will be available until June 30th for people to check their eligibility to apply for a rebate for this financial year.
Go to http://clik.vc/ratesrebate to check for yourself and forward the link to those in your network who might be eligible.
Crossposted from Venture Centre