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Planning Portal performance – 2012/13 in numbers

by on April 17, 2013

There were:

319,610            Planning applications submitted, a 15% increase on 2011/12

2,066,525        Approved Documents downloaded, an increase of 24%

11,128,909      Visits to the website, an increase of 25%

2,595,200kg    of CO2 was saved

The Portal cost a touch over £3m and delivered more than £130m of benefits, equating to £44 of benefit for every £1 spent.

  1. Pretty impressive. Keep up the good work.

  2. Neil Jones permalink

    Impressive numbers Portal Director on what in terms of Government funding is a ‘shoe string’ budget. I hope Mr Pickles appreciates the value the Portal is delivering not only to his Dept but Government as a whole. Imagine what the Portal could provide with a proper budget.

  3. Manny Singh permalink

    Portal Director, I echo Neil & Glen, Great numbers. have been looking at the LPA Stats and Referrals and note the data only takes you back to Jan 2011. Where can I obtain data going further back?

  4. Alasdair Robertson (i-three analytics) permalink

    There are clearly benefits to applicants as shown by the uptake rates which is obviously a good thing.

    But I also think its important to reflect on the whole cost of use for authorities when applicants use use the portal. Our own analysis as part of work to support efficiency in LPAs consistently shows that as things currently stand, invalidity can be up to 50% greater for portal apps. Combined with the costs of software integrations, printing costs (where needed), the admin for reconciling apps to fees when these are paid separately etc, the costs of portal apps can be up to £50 more expensive than the equivalent on paper. In a pure pounds, shillings and pence analysis it may often be more cost effective for LPAs to turn off their portal link…

    • I think the key phrase is “as things are” The evidence is that where local authorities have adopted an end to end electronic service then the savings are considerable. Case studies elsewhere on the blog have shown that there really is no need to print in the vast majority of cases and that where an authority has truly bought into e-planning the issues of validation and such can be easily overcome.

      The key is not to see e as an add-on but as the default way of working, embedding that through workshops with agents and submitters (which we are happy to facilitate). If an LPA chooses to push electronic working and support online payments etc most of the issues you raise can be reduced or removed.

      It’s also worth remembering when looking at cost to authorities that the Portal received 11 million visits last year, most of whom were looking at guidance and help. Without the Portal it has to be assumed that most of that burden would pass to local authorities. That’s significant numbers of calls to contact centres, visits to front desks and website traffic, all of which has a cost and get in the way of planners doing their day job.

      Not to mention that in an ever changing world of planning and building there is legislation, content, help, guidance and forms to be provided, updated and delivered on a daily basis. Without the Portal we return as before to a situation where every local authority up and down the country (and Wales) is doing it for themselves. I hope you’ll agree that was a wasteful and inefficient way of working.

      • Alasdair Robertson (i-three analytics) permalink

        Don’t get me wrong – it clearly makes sense to have guidance and support in one place to avoid the duplication of all authorities making their websites as effective as possible and the portal should be rightly thanked for doing all this work (I’d be interested to see the calculations of these savings as it would be a good reference point). I also totally agree that a lot of the issues come down to education of the customer and truly effective communications (which our work shows is a far more important driver of satisfaction than processing time by the way), and there are all sorts of benefits to be had from this.

        My friendly challenge back would be that adopting the full approach to electronic end to end working is expensive, both financially and in terms of management bandwidth.

        It may well be that there is a positive return to be had on this investment (again it would be interesting to see a full appraisal). However, authorities would be well advised to be sure there aren’t a number of other improvements that could be more easily made and may give a better return on the investment before committing to one specific solution.

        Its all too easy to point to a few case studies and extrapolate to a global trend but…. we have seen some ‘shockers’ where the results of full blown electronic working have been a negative ROI (in one case the transition costs would have paid for two admin clerks to manually handle all the information for 16 years). I have absolutely no evidence that this is typical but we need to see the full workings for the figures above to gauge if this or any other case study is no more than an outlier.

        I’d be happy to share some of our data with you at some point or swap figures if this would be helpful.

  5. Phil permalink

    Hi – where does the £130m number come from? Are you able to point me to a little more detail on your methodology for calculating the economic benefit of your service? Thanks.

    • Phil,
      it comes from a number of sources including studies by KPMG, feedback from service users and channel cost data compiled by SOCITM.

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