A series of innovative changes are underway that will make it even easier for residents to access the huge array of services Medway Council provides for them.

The council is introducing a new way to deal with the hundreds of thousands of telephone enquiries it receives from its residents annually.

This will see residents having just a few phone numbers to call for all council services and there will be a new single team dealing with these, making it quicker for local people to find out about all the services they require in one call.

Currently, the council has around 130 different telephone numbers for residents to call when making enquiries about services. These will start to be phased out from January 2012 onwards.

In addition to this, the council – which provides nearly 140 different services for residents including waste collection, schools, adult and children’s social care, housing and greenspaces – will also introduce a series of new online tools to its website.

This will see the range of enquiries that people can complete online increase and will also allow residents to log on and follow the progress of their enquiry, allowing them to see how it is being dealt with and when it will be resolved.

The changes form part of the first phase of Medway Council’s Better For Less programme and aim to improve the way enquiries are handled so residents can get their enquiry dealt with as quickly and as simply as possible.

The Better For Less programme is an ongoing project looking at how savings can be made across Medway Council while protecting the vital frontline services residents expect.

As part of this, the council will also be restructuring back office administrative services to generate further efficiency savings.

During the first phase of the Better for Less programme, which ends in January 2012, it is expected that around 60 jobs will be deleted and the Better For Less programme is expected to save a total of £15million over the next five years.

To minimise the impact on staff and to avoid further costs, at least 30 of these will come from posts that are currently vacant.

Medway Council has consistently been judged as providing good value for money with residents still paying the lowest council tax in Kent after their bill was frozen for 2011/12.

In addition, savings of £23.5million were required to balance this year’s budget. This again demonstrated the council’s commitment to provide value for money services for people in Medway.

However, further reductions in central government funding for 2011/12 and demographic pressures mean the council will need to continue to deliver savings in future years while safeguarding frontline services wherever possible.

Cllr Alan Jarrett, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: “Like all councils we face a challenging financial future.

“We are taking a very serious approach to this and are looking hard at ways we can improve services while saving money.

“This part of the Better for Less programme will deliver major service improvements for people in Medway and will help deliver significant efficiency savings.”