Improvements to Council’s bulky uplift service as savings achieved


Rhona Macdonald (L) and Shirley Douglas (R) who work at the Service Centre and were part of the review team show the Convenor how the improvements and savings to the Bulky Uplift Service have been achieved

The public will shortly be able to book bulky uplifts with just 24 hours’ notice as part of a number of improvements to the service following a council-wide initiative which has also achieved significant savings.

Led by the Council’s Corporate Improvement Team, a review into the service for the disposal of unwanted large items available to households across the Highlands was carried out.  

Last year a total of 216,510 calls were handled and processed by the Councils Service Centre in Alness and bulky uplifts were identified as a particular problem area.

Service Centre staff played a key role by helping to identify how improvements and efficiencies could be made to not only reduce the time taken to process requests and cut down the number of calls coming in but to improve the bulky uplift service for customers.

From the end of the month a new web-based collection calendar will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to allow anyone looking to book a bulky uplift to find out the next available date. The notice required for making a booking to receiving a collection will drop from 2 working days to just 24 hours. Previously the service was not provided over the Christmas period but people will now be able to request and receive bulky uplifts throughout the whole year.

From the end of this month web-based collection calendars will be on the council’s website to provide customers with more details on all refuse and recycling collections in their area and provide more certainty when bookings for bulky uplifts are made which in turn leads to reduced calls coming to the service centre and cuts down the chance of people missing their collection.

By integrating data and cutting out duplication staff handling time for bulky uplift bookings is being reduced. Following feedback and input from staff, requests now go direct to the teams doing the actual uplifts making the whole service more direct and responsive.

The Council’s Lean Programme, led by the Corporate Improvement Team, is geared towards delivering against Council priority improvement opportunities, in particular those opportunities coming from Council Redesign, and supporting the Council’s transformation to embed a culture of continuous improvement.

During a presentation to the Council’s Redesign Board Councillors were advised that improvements identified in the review have contributed to £57,000 of savings being delivered this financial year which represents 10% of the Service Centre budget

Chair of the Redesign Board and Convenor of The Highland Council, Cllr Bill Lobban visited the Service Centre in Alness yesterday (Tuesday 22 August) to meet staff and to hear more about the work done behind the scenes to bring about improvements to the service.  He said: “Anyone now booking a bulky uplift can do so with the confidence that behind the scenes everything is in place to improve the speed and accuracy of their request.”

“I would like to thank the Service centre staff for their important input to the review. It has reinforced just how important team working is when it comes to focusing on ways to make efficiencies and at the same time improve customer service.  Who better to propose new smarter ways of working than the staff handling the requests?

“I am particularly pleased as the solutions and processes identified by staff during this review are transferrable so we can now go forward using the same method to look at targeting other improvement opportunities.”

The Council’s Lean Programme currently includes projects aimed at delivering improving customer experience and efficiencies in the following areas of service delivery:   

•           Street Cleansing

•           Waste

•           Fostering and adoption

•           Additional Support Needs

•           Complaint Handling

•           Facilities Lets

The Council’s bulky uplift service is for the disposal of unwanted large items and is available to households across the Highlands. The charge is £20.02 for up to 3 items and £40.05 for up to 6 items. Anyone looking to book an uplift can do so on-line by visiting

23 Aug 2017
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