People applying for housing benefit and council tax support from City of Wolverhampton Council can now do so online as part of the authority's drive to provide more services digitally.

The old way of applying for housing benefit involved either a trip into the Civic Centre or filling in a lengthy form at home.

Now, all it takes is a computer or mobile device with an internet connection and the form can be completed from anywhere at a time that suits the applicant. It can also be saved as a 'work in progress' and finished whenever it suits the customer.

As well as being more convenient, the new online process is an intelligent system that tailors the application to the customer's specific circumstances - for example telling them what additional information or documents they will need to support their application.

Anyone who is not confident completing the online application themselves can still visit the Civic Centre or telephone and be assisted by a member of staff. Other organisations such as Wolverhampton Homes also have trained staff on hand to assist.

Councillor Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for resources, said that the new online application form was more convenient for customers and would also save the council money at a time when it was facing unprecedented cuts from Central Government.

He added: "More than 50% of our budget has been cut by Central Government, so we are constantly looking for ways we can improve our services, utilise technology and do more for less.

"This is a perfect example where the experience for the customer is more convenient - it saves them taking to take a trip into town or printing off lots of paper - and also saves the council money.

"Enabling customers to apply online from a place of their choosing on a computer or mobile device means less demand on our services. There will be fewer visits to the Civic Centre, fewer queries over the phone and the process will be streamlined reducing workload through better accuracy."

The city council now offers many services online including the ability to view council bills, manage council tax accounts, report fly tipping, find out bin collection dates, register to vote and renew library books.

The council is also undergoing a Digital Transformation Programme which will revolutionise the way it interacts with customers in the future.

The new Housing Benefit online application form can be accessed via the council's website.

  • released: Wednesday 23 March, 2016