At the start of COVID-19 the council wanted to identify over 70’s living alone to ensure they were given sufficient support, however, the council didn’t have an effective way of identifying this target group.
At the start of COVID-19 the council wanted to identify over 70’s living alone to ensure they were given sufficient support, however, the council didn’t have an effective way of identifying this target group. Sheffield City Council had access to council tax data but didn’t have a link to the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) to enable the data to be linked to other systems within the organisation.
Data sharing was made easier when laws were lifted at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic and the council had recently matched council tax data for the elections department so had already undertaken the background work. Data from the council tax had a reference which provided the link between the UPRN and council tax.
To incorporate the UPRN, Sheffield City Council holds council tax references as a cross reference within the Local Land and Property Gazetteer (LLPG). There are 252,382 cross references and only 182 anomalies. After a quick investigation, staff can tell why anomalies don’t link up and then provide the UPRN. They manually go through the anomalies and have links with two local officers who go out on the ground and have good knowledge of council tax, so if there are any queries, they get responses from them too.
Building on the work and next steps
Following this work, Sheffield City Council have been looking at ways to record the help clinically extremely vulnerable people have been given throughout the pandemic. A customer service network went live in summer 2020 and a full cut of the LLPG was taken. CRM went live with an update of the LLPG and a category related to COVID-19 was added. This hadn’t been updated in the last ten years so was regarded as a big step for the council.
Staff would like to build on the work internally, two departments have processed data from council tax and need further help around how to link this up.
Sheffield City Council had always felt it could be doing a lot more in this field and staff believed they were five to ten years behind where they would like to be. The council feel they have grabbed the opportunity and have seen a great deal of progress in a short period of time. There has also been an increase in understanding amongst staff around UPRNs and the importance of data sharing. Sheffield’s custodian teamed up with the GIS officer, one member of staff working on COVID clusters and a colleague working in data management (all champions of the LLPG) and ran a webinar on GIS day about UPRNs. One hundred staff members in the council attended and this helped increase their knowledge around the UPRN. The event was related to COVID-19 and staff running the event thought this helped staff feel that it was relevant to them.
Finally, at the start of COVID, the IT network could only have 500 people on at once and this work wasn’t deemed critical enough for Sheffield’s custodian to be of those 500 people. When framed as ‘COVID response work’, UPRNs were suddenly seen to be in the council’s best interest and full access to the new network was granted. Sheffield recently reached the end of an external IT contract and a large-scale tech rollout was planned to span across 2020. Due to the pandemic everyone was given IT at the same time, and this meant the network wasn’t fully set up and not all laptops had the correct software. Since undertaking this work the council now understands the importance of a good IT network and digital infrastructure.