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Local Authorities 2017-05-19T09:42:21+00:00

Are you a local authority which runs their own mutual fund to cover schools staff sickness costs?

Yes – we have a scheme
No – not currently

Used by local authorities large and small

Metropolitan Borough Councils

Unitary Authorities

County Councils

So You Have a Scheme – Why Not Improve it?

Typical savings of 15% each and every year when using the Esphera Absence and Claims Management System compared with conventional manual/spreadsheet/paper operation. This is based on averages from existing users and equates to local authority administration time savings of 75% giving cost savings of 4.5%, School administration time savings of 50% giving cost savings of 2%, Eradication of invalid claims of 1.5%, 15% reduction in long term absences giving cost savings of 6%, 50% reduction of retained and insured layer premiums giving costs savings of 2%.
Our “Absence and Claims Management System” software platform will enable you to spend significantly less time running your scheme. From a local authority (or scheme operators) perspective, analysing previous absence history, setting contribution levels, and dealing with absence reimbursement requests all takes much longer when you do not have a bespoke system to take full control and make many of the tricky decisions for you. Our software holds your hand throughout all processes and allows you to provide a complex and flexible offering to schools whilst enabling easy administration. In fact you could probably run the whole scheme without any paper whatsoever, everything is online at your fingertips.
You may well be operating a scheme that is comfortably in the black, but is it really that good for the maximum number of schools? Are you providing the same choice for benefits and terms as the commercial market? Giving schools flexibility is vitally important but is not easy to do without a specialised management system. Our rating and factoring mechanism will also ensure that all schools are treated equally and fairly. This enables the maximum number of schools get the lowest possible sensible contribution level and all these are kept within parameters and limits that mean you can operate the scheme on a practical commercial basis to cover all your reasonable costs.
If this is occurring then it usually means that you are not rating your schools correctly and have not assessed the absence rates to a fine enough degree. Also, if the relative contribution rates between schools is out of balance then you end up overcharging some schools and undercharging others. This results in losing vital schools which weakens your scheme and having a much higher risk base than you had planned for which allows costs to exceed contributions. Our analysis and rating processes can reduce this impact considerably so that you achieve the highest possible buy-in for your scheme.
This should not be the case if the scheme is well managed and your resources are deployed correctly. An accurately analysed absence history and correctly rated scheme should not be beaten by the commercial insurance premiums. On the few occasions when they provide better value this is normally due to loss-leading tactics which inevitably lead schools paying much more down the line when their absences increase. Ensuring your resources are used to effectively communicate the reasons for undercutting by insurers and the potential pitfalls is a much better way to spend time than in administering all the paperwork of a conventional scheme. Our advice can help you understand the messages you need to get across to schools to prevent them effectively gambling and switching back and forwards between insurers and mutual schemes. We know how to get schools to buy-in for the longer term which in turn stabilises your scheme.
If you are struggling with the financial performance of your scheme then we can help you turn this around. There are normally several basic reasons why mutual schemes start to implode and it is vital to prevent this happening for the sake of the schools. One of the main reasons clients use our services is not only to save money, time and effort but more importantly to ensure that the scheme survives over the long term and schools do not have resort to commercial insurance with the huge extra costs that imposes on schools.

No Scheme – No Problem! – Setting Up a New Scheme That Pays For Itself

Many local authorities are either moving to or considering setting up new mutual schemes. Once they understand  the definite advantages over  staff sickness insurance it can be viewed as an obvious “no-brainer” solution.

Once the penny has dropped, some authorities wonder how they can set up and run the scheme in the best possible way. We can provide you with a complete holistic approach to operating a schools’ staff absence scheme. From advising you on best practice, telling you what the insurers do, good and bad, how to avoid the pitfalls and how to play to the strengths of a mutual fund, and importantly giving you the tools to implement a scheme in the best way with the least possible cost. Once underway, we can review performance to ensure it is inline with expectations and help at difficult and confusing times such as end of year renewals to make the scheme as attractive, valuable and as low cost as possible.

So there are really just two steps

  1. Understanding that providing a mutual scheme is “the right thing to do” (as many councils have said) as it saves schools that require some form of cover a huge amount and can be done without costing the local authority any money at all. Doing this saves schools in excess of 30% instantly  if done correctly.
  2. Understanding that by having an Esphera backed scheme, you can do it correctly and will further reduce time, effort and money spent, probably by another 15% compared to conventional methods and more importantly that your scheme will remain strong, viable and best value for the majority of participants for the longest possible time.

Whatever your situation, our experience, knowledge, insight and software management tools will help you put in place the strongest possible scheme

Whether you call it a Supply Teacher fund, Mutual Fund or School Accident and Illness fund, the chances are you are not managing it as efficiently as you could be, and therefore losing valuable time and money. Our Absence and Claims Management System can help you acheive significant improvements in the way your fund is run.

We can help you professionally manage your staff sickness fund and offer the answer to your absence and attendance management headaches. The Esphera Absence & Claims Management System is a fully outsourced Internet based absence and claims processing and reporting application specifically designed to replace paper and spreadsheet based claims processes. Once using the system you will be able to receive absence returns and subsequent claims much more easily and monitor and manage absences and supply staff payments more effectively.

Essentially a scheme manager is able to configure the system for its own scheme rules and then allow schools to submit returns electronically to the authority. These contain details relating to the school itself, holidays for the school, staff members, their absences and claims for payment against the authority held fund. These are then easily checked on-line by the authority administrators where feedback and claim outcomes can be notified to the schools immediately.

The reporting side of the system will enable you to report on absences across many different areas. This includes reports detailing or summarising all absence and claim details for particular returns, dates, individuals, causes and many other subjects of interest. An extensive search facility will allow you to find information on all or any of the submitted returns using detailed and complex search criteria where required.

One of the most useful features of the system is the Renewals Module. This analyses the absence and claims history for a school over a number of time periods and compares it to the average figures across all schools. Using appropriate weighting algorithms the estimator will provide figures on the expected absences for that school and allow the authority to set a membership contribution which is expected to cover the expected expenditure. These figures can be utilised in the quotation part of the module where schools can choose from a myriad of cover options and be sure that they are offered an equitable payment which external insurance providers will find difficult to match without reducing cover or adding restrictive caveats. Not only does this module make setting the contributions a breeze but it also considerably reduces the time taken for the whole renewals process each year. By taking advantage of this facility an authority can refine the scheme to match their schools’ wishes and be confident of running a minor surplus which can then be used to safeguard future years and provide the best value scheme for the schools. In turn this will result in higher takeup for the scheme, reduced risk and less uncertainty.

What local authorities are saying about their real-life experiences using the system

“For the first time our fund is up to date and under control”
“Costs of handling claims reduced by over 80%”
“Takes 30 seconds to do what used to take us 4 weeks”
“It costs us approximately 2.5% of fund – a small overhead compared to the benefits which way exceed that – we’re finding this a real help”
“We couldn’t run our scheme effectively without it”
“If we didn’t have this we wouldn’t have a viable scheme.”
“Our schools were paying 50% more than necessary. All authorities should run these schemes – it’s a no brainer”