Last Updated 08 Jul 2021

Official Correspondence

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This report looks at official correspondence which are replies we do on behalf of members of parliament This report also touches on some issues about the template letters the RPA use. This report goes into detail about the solutions designed to resolve the issues that came from the staff satisfaction survey writing process such as template letters and official correspondence on behalf of M.P's etc. T Results-The results of designing a solution for official correspondence was that there were a variety of options that could have been pursued most were too intensive in the way that the WCW's (Whole Case Workers) don't get official correspondence on a regular basis and therefore the corporate line, style or language may have changed.

A few of the options were high in cost and therefore we discounted in this instance. The general subject of official correspondence meant that although part of the e-mail and letter writing could be sourced and used anything outside of this would just be along the lines of general letter writing not official correspondence (you could say it is a bespoke subject on it's own).

In the staff survey 41% were not confident when replying to the national farmers union (similar to official correspondence) 38% were not confident in drafting responses to challenges/appeals and 42% were not confident in drafting responses to official correspondence also within the results 23% were not confident when completing case summaries which is part of the official correspondence process. Another area which links in with all of these is that 41% would like to be able to find information more easily/quickly.

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Conclusions & recommendations

The conclusions I made from the results of the staff satisfaction survey and issues raised by the customer team that because official correspondence is not done regularly and the level of detail required so much higher than ordinary letter writing, the knowledge was lacking and where knowledge was fine the procedure was slightly different to when the WCW had last done one.

My recommendations are that the there is no option to do nothing as the quality checks and spot checks statistics need to be improved and so because of the cost of outsourcing the training or to develop something for a days session will not only cost too much but to design a learning session for a day which in which the learning might not be used for 6 months is also a waste of time there is too much pressure on the business to deliver payments. There will need to be a FAQ sheet sent out after the events to make sure of consistency for the letter writing being done, and cover off any issues that will be raised in the 30 minute session.

The group of learners I have focused in on are the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) section who are in general the processors of claims received from Farmers and Farms. They are generally known as whole case workers (WCW) and there role is to achieve the agency targets on payments as well as customer service The area of focus for this design/solution is the WCW role and within that role the issues about official correspondence, which is where a case summary is drawn up looking at the question(s) or complaints and appeals made by a farming business or agent.

A draft reply is then completed using this case summary as a basis. These are both then sent on by the WCW to the customer team that does a series of checks, then this is passed onto the SEO for further checks and then onto the site head before finally going through the final for Tony Cooper to sign. It sounds an incredibly complicated process, which it is but the reason for this is that the replies are going to members of parliament and then out to a constituent. So the importance on these letters and there quality is paramount as we are accountable to the public.

Usually the letter received is of a serious nature which is why the M. P has been contacted for answers. The process has a lot of stages in it and the turnaround is only seven working days. The general issues are that nearly half of the people within SPS are not confident in what they should be doing with official correspondence, it is not usually a regular thing that needs to be dealt with say daily by a whole case worker and so knowledge and understanding on this are not there or are buried under a mountain of SPS knowledge that is used on a more regular basis.

I have not really talked about the actual formulation of the letters by WCW yet, the issue is not this as a lot of WCW are used to sending out letters. They usually use template letters which don't need much input from the WCW where as official correspondence requires a case summary and a draft reply. Although this area does encompass the basic letter writing knowledge and understanding so there is some cross over.

One issue that I have no control over is the fact that this work is not a regular piece of work a WCW has to do; you could get one in a six month period or one in a twelve month period or not at all. Or five in a twelve month period (like buses three come at once) This creates problems for retention of knowledge and also problems with any changes in the process which may have occurred since a WCW last completed a case.

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