Local Government Revenues Officer

The Job and What's Involved

Revenues and benefits officers work for local authorities, but not county councils, administering housing benefits, rent, council tax and business rates. While, in some authorities, collecting revenues and dealing with benefits remain two separate jobs, in others they are combined or very closely linked.

Revenues officers usually focus on calculating and collecting rents, council tax and business rates, looking after all the related administrative work. Duties typically include:

  • Sending bills and issuing reminders.
  • Collecting and processing payments.
  • Dealing with enquiries face to face, by letter, e-mail or by phone.
  • Advising people who are having difficulty paying their council tax, rents and rates, and agreeing how they will pay off their debts.
  • Maintaining accurate clerical and computerised records.
  • Recovering arrears of rent or council tax.
  • Assisting in the legal recovery process, which could mean seeing a case through the magistrates' courts and appointing bailiffs.

Benefits officers calculate and review whether people qualify for housing and council tax benefits. Their duties may include:

  • Assessing whether people are entitled to benefits.
  • Checking and processing claims forms.
  • Administering benefits and adjusting the amounts paid when people's circumstances change.
  • Communicating with social services, housing associations and Department of Work and Pensions staff.
  • Recovering benefit overpayments.
  • Identifying fraud and assisting in fraud investigations.

Revenues officers use a range of computer systems and software packages. They must keep accurate records of their work.

Local government revenues officers normally work between 35 and 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Flexible working arrangements, such as part-time work and job sharing, are often available.

Revenues officers are mainly office based but may spend some time visiting people's homes or businesses. A driving licence can be useful.

Salaries for trainees are likely to be between £14,587 and £15,291 a year. With an IRRV qualification, revenues officers can earn between £16,991 and £18,937 a year.

Senior officers and fraud investigators may earn between £24,000 and £36,000 or more, depending on qualifications and experience.

Although local government revenues officers are paid within a national pay framework, salaries vary according to local grading policies and the size of the local authority. London allowances of £3,266 (inner London), £2,388 (Greater London) and £1,738 (outer London) may be paid on top of salary scales.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are 433 local councils in the UK, employing over 4,000 revenues officers. Officers are employed by all types of local authorities, except county councils, or by one of the growing number of private companies that are contracted to provide benefits services to local councils. Demand for qualified revenue and benefit officers is high. A few well-qualified revenues officers are self-employed.

Vacancies may be advertised in the local press and in the jobs bulletins and on the websites of individual local authorities. They may also appear in the public sector printed and digital recruitment magazine Opportunities and on public sector employment sites such as www.lgjobs.com and www.jobsgopublic.com. Jobs may also appear on the Institute of Revenues Ratings and Valuations (IRRV) website. Employment agencies sometimes place temporary staff. These contracts may lead to permanent jobs.

Education and Training

There are no set entry requirements. Employers will often seek entrants with computer skills, and previous experience working in a team in an administrative, financial or customer service role.

Some jobs may ask for at least four GCSE's (A*-C) including maths and English. Employers that do not ask for qualifications may instead test skills needed for the job, such as communication, IT and numerical ability.

The Diplomas in business, administration and finance and in public services (from 2010) may be relevant for this area of work.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

New entrants generally start with in-house training on benefit rules and specialist computer software packages used, usually supervised by experienced colleagues.

Many employers expect revenues officers to study for qualifications awarded by the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation (IRRV), the professional body for people working in local revenues and benefits administration. Courses available include:

  • IRRV Level 3 Certificate in Local Taxation and Benefits.
  • NVQ Level 3 in housing and council tax benefits.
  • NVQ Level 3 in local taxation.

Ideally, students need to be working in a local authority setting to undertake these qualifications. Successful completion of any these qualifications can lead to Technician membership of the IRRV (Tech IRRV). The courses can be studied by day release and by distance learning.

The IRRV offers a continuing professional development (CPD) scheme to members in order to keep them up to date with relevant changes in revenues and benefits.

A Level 5 Professional Diploma and Level 6 Honours are aimed at those who wish to progress into senior positions, the entry requirement to the Diploma is an appropriate IRRV qualification at Technician or NVQ/Certificate Level 3.

Candidates wanting to undertake the Honours programme must have passed the preceding level. There are three parts to the Honours programme:

  • A dissertation of 15,000 words.
  • Oral examination, testing dissertation content and other aspects of knowledge.
  • Assessment of professional competence, requiring a record of work and professional development over a specified period, supported by a mentor.

Candidates achieving the Diploma or Honours will be able to use the designation IRRV (Dip) or IRRV (Hons).

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A local government revenues officer needs:

  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills.
  • An assertive but tactful manner.
  • The ability to interpret complex information and explain it clearly to customers.
  • Good customer care skills.
  • Numerical confidence.
  • Computer literacy.
  • Team working skills.
  • Accuracy and attention to detail.
  • Discretion for handling confidential information.
  • Problem-solving ability.
  • To be organised, with a flexible attitude.

Your Long Term Prospects

There is usually a clearly defined promotion structure with opportunities to become a team leader or department manager or move into other local government financial roles.

Some revenues officers move into financial roles in central government departments such as the Department for Work and Pensions or HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The skills acquired can be equally valuable in public sector accountancy or giving advice within voluntary organisations such as the Citizens Advice service.

Get Further Information

Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation (IRRV),
41 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LF
Tel: 020 7831 3505
Website: www.irrv.net

Local Government Talent. Website
www.lgjobs.com

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