SPEAKER BIOGRAPHIES

Charlotte Acutt, Operations Manager Income, Southwark LBC

Charlotte Acutt has over 25 years’ experience of working in Local Government Revenues across two London Boroughs. In her current role as Income Operations Manager at Southwark Council she in responsible for the collection of various income streams. She has managed the creation of an in-house enforcement agent function and the implementation of a managed single view of debt across all areas in her current remit. Charlotte is the current President of the London and Home Counties IRRV Association and a member of the London Revenues Group executive committee.

Helen Addis, Bristow & Sutor

Helen joined Bristow & Sutor from the Recruitment industry where she designed and delivered projects to address equality and diversity concerns in the Engineering sector. Helen is passionate about delivering enforcement services that positively impact our clients, their customers, and their communities; creating sustainable relationships with stakeholders from all corners of the debt recovery and enforcement community; and further developing a positive working environment for Bristow & Sutor colleagues.

Lee Anderson, Director of Operations and Development Valuation Tribunal Service (VTS)

Lee started his career in local government in 1988, working for a number of years across revenues and benefits departments dealing with domestic rating, non-domestic rating, community charge and council tax. He initially joined the VTS in a technical capacity as a hearing clerk but has for a number of years specialised in organisational management. Lee has been actively involved in a number of organisational change programmes providing ongoing efficiency savings and realigning front line services to meet changing stakeholder requirements. He was appointed to his current role as Director of Operations and Development in 2014.
Lee is Chairman of the IRRV Qualification Management Board and acts as moderator across a number of Institute examinations. He represents the VTS on a number of external professional liaison groups and has presented papers at an extensive range of national conferences and seminars. Lee holds a degree in organisation and management, and PRINCE2 and MSP practitioner qualifications.

Lois Anderson, Revenues Team Leader, Southwark LBC

Lois currently works at Southwark Council in the role of Revenues Team Leader, where amongst other responsibilities she is the strategic lead for a vulnerability and support team within the debt collection area. In recent years this has involved the implementation of Breathing Space across the Council, internal set up and management of the Money Helper service and also a Financial Shield project partnering with Guys & St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust and other local creditors. She was the operational lead for the creation and roll out of a managed single view of debt team, which led to Southwark Council winning the IRRV Excellence in Innovation (Collection) award in 2019. She has over 10 years’ experience in Local Government.

Markus J Becker, Digital Growth Director, Capita Public Service

Markus is an experienced executive with a strong international track record as a C-level business leader and Managing Director in the consulting and managed services arena. He has a passion for leveraging technologies and digital transformation to solve problems and create better results for people, businesses and government.
In his role as Director for Digital Growth, Markus drives the expansion of Capita’s growing footprint in the Business Process-as-a-Service (BPaaS) market, leveraging Capita’s proprietary digital products and digital BPO propositions. He is at the forefront of driving technological innovation and business transformation, particularly with the impact of digital technologies on customer experience, business strategy, execution and culture.

John Berry, Director for Property Professional Services, Valuation Office Agency

As Director of Property Professional Services in the Valuation Office Agency, John’s remit covers a range of functions including legal/technical policy and guidance, 2023 Revaluation, valuation assurance, budgets and resources, the VOA’s surveyor development pipeline and COVID-19 response. He joined the Agency in 1986 as an Admin Assistant, progressing through the VOA’s Cadet Valuer scheme and qualifying as a Chartered Surveyor in 1992. In recent years, John has undertaken a number of senior leadership roles across the Agency covering training, strategy, policy, resources and operational delivery. He has been a co-opted member of the IRRV’s Valuation Faculty Board for a number of years.

Steve Black, Business Development Manager, LoCTA Ltd

Steve recently joined LoCTA, as Business Development Mgr. following the extensive development and innovation LoCTA worked on during the pandemic.
Steve has worked with and for Authorities over his entire working life; from leisure and the delivery of sport/wellbeing, through children and families and the Learning Disability teams, before doing a social work degree. Steve worked with schools, supporting families in central Manchester, working on the Manchester Multi-Agency Gang Strategy during the height of the Gunchester period; a phrase glibly coined by the press which didn’t reflect the structural inequalities many families historically suffered.
Steve was the Development Lead tasked to deliver the DWP’s Working Well Pilot to ESA claimants further from the workplace for the Assoc. of Greater Manchester Authorities, and then on Working Well itself.
Most recently Steve worked closely with Trafford Council as Census Engagement Mgr. to deliver a successful census for the ONS, initial indicators suggest a record 98% return for the Authority, no mean feat given the lockdowns and limited engagement opportunities.

Ed Bowen, Housing Benefit Technical Manager, Runnymede BC

Ed has been working in Local Government for the past 36 years, first at Slough Borough Council, Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead introducing Community Charge and then Council Tax, and after studying with the IRRV for Tech Level 3 qualification and Honours qualifications, went to Chiltern and South Bucks District Councils. Ed is currently the Housing Benefit Technical Manager with Runnymede Borough Council. As a co-optee on the Benefit Faculty Board, he became the editor and co-author of the Benefit Overpayment Guide. He has also been a speaker at both Annual and Scottish Conferences a number of times, and written articles for Insight. An active executive member of the Thames Valley Association he is the education representative and a past president, and current Junior Vice President.

Steve Brockington-Brown, Client Development Director, Marston Recovery

Steve has over 30 years’ local taxation experience working in a variety of public and private sector roles. He started his career at LB Wandsworth implementing Poll Tax before moving to Broxtowe BC. In June 2000. Steve moved to Leicester City Council as Revenues and Benefits Manager and helped deliver year on year improvements in collection rates. In 2010 Steve moved to the private sector, working for Rossendales, subsequently acquired by Marston. His current role as Client Development Director for local taxation involves securing new business, work on tender submissions, presentations and client management. This blend of public and private sector experience enables him to offer an informed and supportive role to clients and other stakeholders across the local taxation workspace.

Thomas Chalk, Data Solutions Consultant, Capita

Thomas is a data solutions consultant in the Data & AI Guild at Capita and coordinator for local government consulting. Providing oversight and input to solutions to data and analytics projects.
After an academic career in public health and oncology drug development, working in the NHS and AstraZeneca, Thomas joined a leading IT consulting firm and has delivered large scale data transformation projects across public and private sector.
Thomas has experience designing and delivering portfolios of bespoke analytics tools to improve business outcomes and specialises in Data Science with a focus on predictive modelling and traditional statistical techniques.
At Capita, Thomas has lead development of several novel data analytics products to drive operational efficiencies and assist in recognition of vulnerable populations in local government.
Currently, Thomas is developing automated predictive analytics tooling to help financially vulnerable citizens and to identify vulnerable pupil subgroups for schools and MATs.

Allan Clark, Head of Finance:Exchequer, Barnet LBC

Allan has worked in Local Government for over 20 years starting his career in Scotland as a trainee Payroll clerk. He has worked in a variety of roles within Revenues and Benefits and more recently taking on a wider role as Head of Finance: Exchequer with the London Borough of Barnet. Allan’s service area covers Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Cash and Bank Management, Corporate Grants, Mayors Benevolent Fund, Revenues and Benefits and Security Collections.
He is a Fellow member of the Institute, a past President of the London and Home Counties Association and former examiner for the Institutes certificate level qualification in Council Tax Law (England and Wales). Allan has presented previous papers at IRRV’s annual conference and has been a member of National Council since 2016 where he serves as a member of the Revenues Faculty Board and Vice Chair of Commercial Services Committee.

Alex Clegg, Policy and Data Analyst, Policy in Practice

Alex joined Policy in Practice in 2021 after completing a Masters degree in Comparative Social Policy at the University of Oxford. He works with local authority administrative data to provide actionable policy insights. He is working on an innovative project to understand the longitudinal impact of the effects of Covid on low income Londoners using data from councils across London. The resulting insights are helping councils to drive their Covid recovery plans.

Alan Colston, Chief Valuer, Valuation Office Agency

As Chief Valuer, Alan is part of the Agency’s Executive Committee and Board contributing to the corporate leadership, strategic direction and management of the VOA. He is directly accountable for the successful delivery of valuation and technical advice across the Valuation Office Agency including the strategic leadership of the Chief Valuer Group (CVG). CVG is responsible for promoting and assuring professional standards to build and sustain confidence and trust in VOA’s valuations and property advice.
Alan is the Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) for the VOA’s compilation and maintenance of future rating lists and Head of Profession for Surveying within the VOA. Alan is a Chartered Surveyor and has worked in the VO for around 30 years. He has experience across the whole of the Agency business and became a RICS Rating Diploma Holder in 2000 and Chair of the section in 2017. He plays a key leadership role in the Government Property Profession feeding in to the wider agenda to build excellent capacity and capability in the property profession across Government. He acts as an ambassador for the VOA and represents the agency on various external stakeholder forums.

Nick Cooper, Valuation and Policy Advisor, Non-Domestic Rates, MHCLG

Nick Cooper has been involved with various aspects of the rating system since 1992. During the 1990s he worked for DOE and then DETR on rating policy including the transitional relief scheme, the Local Government and Rating Act 1997 (village shop rate relief), the Rating Valuation Act 1999 (the treatment of repair in rating) and was Secretary to the 2nd Wood Committee on the Rating of Plant and Machinery. In 2000 he joined the Valuation Office Agency where he specialised in receipts and expenditure valuations and, from 2006, was Valuation Officer for Merseyside and Cheshire. He now works for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government advising the Government on rating valuation and local taxation.

Dawn Cove, Head of Benefits, Revenues, Benefits and Transactional Centre, Redbridge LBC

Dawn started her career in Local Government as a Community Charge Officer in February 1990. After 5 years in Revenues, working in billing, recovery and Business Rates, she moved to Benefits and has never looked back. Dawn worked as an assessment officer for 4 years before being promoted to Senior Benefit Officer and then Team Leader before she took on her current role as Head of Benefits in 2011. Benefits is her passion, and whilst the Welfare Reform has been a challenge it has also given her the opportunity to expand the services her team offer and allowed her to develop a service that is now renowned for providing excellent support to the most vulnerable residents. Dawn likes nothing better than spending time developing tailored support packages for residents and enabling them to move on and improve their lives.

Paul Dalling, Rating Specialis, National Valuation Unit, VOA

Paul Dalling FRICS, Dip Rating, IRRV(Hons) is a rating specialist within National Valuation Unit of the Valuation Office Agency with 33 years’ experience. His current role is to deliver technical advice, offer direction, guidance and support and to ensure that consistency of approach is adopted by rating valuation caseworkers across the VOA network for retail classes such as large shops, the restaurants classes and garden centres. The role requires case management, assisting with complex rating casework and attendance at Tribunals as Advocate or Expert Witness. He facilitates and chairs the Class Coordination meetings and is responsible for writing several of the Rating Manual and Practice Notes. He negotiates values centrally and assists progression of casework and appeals throughout the Agency. Paul is involved in delivering the RICS Rating Diploma study course. He is a member of the IRRV Qualifications Management Board and is the examiner for the IRRV Rating Valuation paper.

Paula Doherty, Team Leader for Benefits and Welfare, Dumfries & Galloway C

Paula manages a Variety of Services: • Housing Benefit • Council Tax Reduction • Scottish Welfare Fund • Discretionary Housing Payments • Free School Meals and School Clothing Grants • Financial Assessments for care at home and residential care • Income Maximisation • Welfare and Housing Options Service • Housing Support She is an active member of the IRRV Scottish Association, currently holding the position of Vice President, Education Liaison Officer and Chair of the Welfare Reform Consortium.

Clare Elliott, Deputy Director, DWP

Clare has worked in the Civil Service since 1986 starting her career as an Economist in the Manpower Services Commission. She has worked in numerous government Departments on a range of different policy areas including employment, skills and small business. She has been Head of Local Authority Performance, Engagement and Delivery (formerly Housing Delivery Division) in DWP since August 2013 with responsibility for Housing Benefit performance and assurance and this remit has expanded in recent years to also cover such things as Covid Winter and Local Grant Schemes.

Mark Fearn, Programme Leader – Resourses and Transformation, Walsall C

Mark has worked within the Revenues arena for almost twenty five years and is currently at Walsall. His previous posts have included Revenues Manager at Milton Keynes Council, Head of Revenues at North West Leicestershire DC and Revenue Collection Manager at South Derbyshire District Council. Mark has been a member of the East Midlands IRRV Association executive since 1998 and has held the posts of Secretary and President during that time.

Louise Freeth, Head of Revenues and Benefits, Windsor and Maidenhead RBC

Louise is the Head of Revenues and Benefits at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. She started work, almost 30 years ago, in Port Talbot Borough Council benefits section as a clerical assistant, during the days of Community Charge Benefit. Since that time Louise has gained experience in a range of roles at various local authorities and within the private sector, most recently as Change and Service Development Manager at Liberata where she worked with a range of clients on the Welfare Reforms and Fraud and Error Initiatives. Louise has been a member of the Benefits Faculty Board and member of the IRRV national Council for a number of years. She is also currently vice-chair of the Education/Membership Committee and national President. A Fellow member of the Institute, Louise is a regular public speaker and also provides day release training to staff sitting their professional exams.

Deven Ghelani, Director and Founder, Policy in Practice

Deven is one of the architects of Universal Credit and a recognised expert in welfare policy. After claiming benefits himself, Deven founded Policy in Practice to make government policy simple for people to understand. Deven has advised private and public sector organisations including central and local government on the impact of changes to the welfare system, and written and spoken extensively on welfare reform. He sits on the Social Metrics Commission and the Mental Health and Income Commission.

John Giblin, Management Consultant

John has been a Management Consultant for over 25 years. He created and launched John Giblin: Management Consulting in December 2014 and in 2019 he has taken his business into a strategic partnership with Alan Sullivan, Consultancy Services. Since 2014 he has worked extensively on business change & continuous improvement programmes with senior council officials across the UK. He has also worked in partnership with the IRRV, delivering dozens of welfare reform or management development events. He started work as a 16-year-old in front line delivery for the DHSS in 1977 but later joined the Department’s Consultancy unit where he helped successfully implement Incapacity Benefit and JSA as well as set up and close down the BFI.

David Graaff, Head of Service Delivery, Haringey LBC

David leads the Revenues, Benefits and Debt services in Haringey. These services are going through a transformation to meet the challenges of a post-Covid era, and helping residents manage their finances and reduce their debt. David is an experienced leader with a varied career across Revenues, Benefits, welfare, debt and enforcement. He has led services in authorities across London, the Midlands and Yorkshire, and has acted as a consultant and interim manager in many others. He has also delivered out-sourced services, debt recovery, and enforcement services in the private sector. An early adopter of Lean and Systems Thinking, he still uses these principles to focus on the customer experience and building the delivery of high quality, reliable, and cost-effective services.

Simon Green, Partner, Gerald Eve

Simon is an IRRV council member and Chair of the Valuation Faculty Board. He is a member of the Rating and Local Taxation Policy Forum of the RICS for whom he also acts as an APC Assessor. He is a member of The Rating Surveyors’ Association of which he has been an elected committee member. Simon is a Partner at Gerald Eve LLP responsible for co-ordinating the Rating team. He advises clients across many sectors with particular emphasis on the manufacturing, distribution and general industrial sectors and has advised on Rating matters for over 25 years. He deals with all rating matters for clients providing strategic rating advice on many nationwide portfolios covering all aspects of rate management, appeal strategy and other non-appeal related rating matters. In recent years he has co-ordinated responses to various Government consultations in respect of the business rates system and assisted clients and the IRRV in submissions to the Treasury Select Committee in respect of its enquiry into the Impact of Business Rates on Businesses and more recently responses to the Call for Evidence associated with the Fundamental Review of Business Rates announced by the Government earlier this year.

Christopher Grose, Director - Business Rates, Hartnell Taylor Cook

Christopher is a Director in the Business Rate team at Hartnell Taylor Cook. Having joined the business rates world in the run up to the 1990 revaluation he has dealt with appeals on many different property types in every Revaluation since including a spell in the Valuation Office. Christopher is Vice Chair of the IRRV Valuation Faculty and Secretary of the London & Home Counties IRRV Association

Ibrahim Hasan, Director and Solicitor, Act Now Training Ltd

Ibrahim is a lawyer and director of Act Now Training Limited which is one of the UK’s leading data protection law consultancies. Ibrahim’s clients include most local authorities as well as the UK Parliament, the US Department of Homeland Security, Airbus, BskyB, Unilever and the Rolls Royce Motor Group. His data protection expertise has taken him to the USA, Dubai, Germany, China, Malta and Brunei. Ibrahim’s publications include the UK GDPR Handbook and his articles which have been published in the Law Society Gazette and Solicitors Journal. He has been a guest lecturer on the University of Northumbria’s LLM in Information Rights Law and has been interviewed on the BBC as an information law expert.

Carla-Maria Heath, Junior Vice President, IRRV

Having graduated from London University, Carla-Maria Heath entered local government in the Rates Department at the London Borough of Lambeth and then moved to the City of London Rates Section in 1982. In 1994 she was appointed to the post of Head of Revenues at the City, a post she held for 23 years, responsible for collecting around £1.5 billion in non-domestic rates, council tax, commercial rents and miscellaneous income. Since leaving the City Corporation, she has become an independent consultant on local authority revenues. Carla-Maria is Junior Vice President of the IRRV and Chair of the Local Taxation and Revenues Faculty. She is an active member of the executive committee of the London and Home Counties Association and has been Association Chairman twice. Currently Carla-Maria represents the Institute on the Fair Funding Review and Systems Design Working Groups for business rates reform at the DCLG/LGA. She also represents the Institute on the Valuation Tribunal User Group and at the VOA.

Gordon Heath, Director, Gordon Heath Ltd

After graduating in Mathematics and Astrophysics, Gordon Heath was in local government for 21 years, including 11 years as Head of Revenues and/or Benefits in the London Boroughs of Redbridge and Croydon. Since 1997, he has run his own business as an independent consultant. His work is quite varied but he takes a special interest in the complexities of business rates throughout the UK. He has served on various working groups advising Government on business rates and co-wrote the English transitional scheme legislation for 2005. He has been chairman of the IRRV London and Home Counties Association twice and has been on the Association’s Executive Committee since 1984. He is co-author of the Institute’s books “Business Rates – Your Guide”, “Rating Law and Practice” and Council Tax Law and Practice. He also writes for the Institute’s magazines including a regular column in Valuer magazine. He joined the Institute’s National Council in 2008 and is currently he IRRV President. He serves on several IRRV committees and boards. In July 2012, Gordon was made an honorary member of the Rating Surveyors Association.

Andrew Hetherton, President, IRRV

Andrew is a Director of Andrew Hetherton Consulting Ltd and a business rates consultant. He has 25 years of experience as a business rates consultant in private practice. Having previously worked for GL Hearn where he was Head of Business Rates he has been involved with business rates appeals throughout the United Kingdom and in the Irish Republic. Prior to that, he spent a short time working for the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). Andrew is a member of Council for the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation (IRRV) and National President (Elect) 2019/20, currently Chairman of the Law and Research Committee and Valuation Faculty Board. He is a Past President of the Rating Surveyors’ Association (RSA) and has served on the Committee of the RSA since 2008. He is also a member of the RICS Local Taxation and Policy Group. Andrew is a member of IPTI and has also spoken at a number of IPTI events in Europe and further afield. He has a particular interest in the out-of-town retail warehouses sector which represents the interests of landlords, occupiers, developers and investors in that sector and a Non Executive Director of Accessible Retail Ltd. He has experience of dealing with a wide range of property types and has co-ordinated and represented the interests of a large number of occupier and landlord clients on business rates matters Highlights from his career to date include providing written and oral evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees and he was the convenor for an intervention by the RSA in a matter before the UK Supreme Court Woolway (VO) v Mazars [2015] UKSC 53. He has also provided expert advice and comment on recent cases concerning the role of an expert witness to a number of clients and organisations.

Steven Johnson, CEO at Considered and a Behavioural Insights Advisor at Voicescape

Steven is a writer, speaker and consultant working at the intersection of behavioural insights, data science and human-centred design. He is CEO at Considered and a Behavioural Insights Advisor at Voicescape. In 2014 he launched one of the first specialist behavioural insights consultancies in the UK, successfully growing and selling what had become an award-winning business in 2019. He is a Fellow of the RSA and Founder at Considered. Over the last decade he has worked extensively across sectors, helping organisations, teams and individuals drive improvement through a behavioural approach to innovation. He has lead insight and design on a vast range of award-winning behaviour change projects, incorporating over 40 randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Working with clients across the UK, Europe and North America his work has received recognition from Cannes Lions, D&AD, IPA, AHC, How-Do and the German Design Council. He served 3 years as an NED with global advertising body D&AD, helping the executive team develop their undertanding, positioning and offer in relation to sustainability and positive social change.

Darren Kelk, Managing Director, Ascendant Solutions Limited

Darren has over 24 years’ experience in the private debt collection sector working on behalf of collection agencies in specialist areas. High volume low value consumer debt, commercial debt, tracing, debt purchase, field operations and outsourcing. Holding main Board positions at Rossendales and UK Search Limited for over 10 years In March 2016, he set up Ascendant Solutions Limited to deliver bespoke data platforms for commercial and consumer collections/risk and analytical solutions to the Public Sector.
Delivering bespoke training packages to over 10,000 delegates over the last 14 years and speaking at National and local IRRV and Housing Network Conferences.

Carole Kenney, President, CIVEA

Carole has over 20 years’ experience within the enforcement profession, starting her career as a Certificated Bailiff and moving on to hold high profile positions focussed on improving the journey and outcomes for individuals in debt. Representing CDER Group as Director of Welfare & Customer Care, Carole has cemented firm relationships with many advice sector organisations and implemented collaborative working practices and initiatives to fully support vulnerable customers.
Carole works passionately within the sector to promote best practice and deliver enforcement services which are ethical and fair to both debtor, creditor and the taxpayer, demonstrated through her contribution to the 2019 Justice Select Committee enquiry into bailiff practices.
As CIVEA President, Carole has been influential in raising industry standards through her involvement in the revised CIVEA Code of Conduct for enforcement agents and leading the industry response to the coronavirus pandemic. Carole’s advocacy for further reform through independent oversight of the industry has been pivotal to the development of a framework for the Enforcement Conduct Authority.

Zoe Kent, Revenues & Benefits Manager, Swale BC

Zoe’s career started at the DHSS working on Supplementary Benefit and then Income Support. After a career break she moved into Local Government in 2003 working on the frontline of the Housing Benefit team at Swale Borough Council, then moving on to the roles of Training Officer, Assistant Revenues and Benefits Manager and from 2015 Revenues and Benefits Manager.
Zoe worked with the DWP to set up the Kent Overpayments Network, to ensure that overpayment officers were able to meet, to discuss good practice and bring in new initiatives.
She obtained her full IRRV qualification in 2010 and has been on the IRRV SE Association executive for many years becoming an IRRV Council Member in October 2018.

Ellie Kershaw, Tackling Poverty Programme Delivery Manager, Tower Hamlets LBC

Ellie has over 20 years’ experience in local government and joined Tower Hamlets four years ago to establish the Tackling Poverty Programme. Her passion for improving the life chances of others means she is always looking for innovative ways to tackle poverty and inequality. Ellie and her team have delivered many projects to support local residents in hardship, including leading the borough’s emergency pandemic food response, distributing grants to those in need, delivering holiday activity programmes and providing benefits support to residents.

Sean Langley, Senior Consultant, CPC Project Services LLP

Sean’s local government career was 19 years, in 3 local authorities, finishing as Revenues & Benefits Service Manager at Basingstoke & Deane BC. A fully-qualified IRRV member since 1985, this matured into a Fellowship in 2012. In 1999, he began working as freelance consultant, serving 40+ client organisations, including several UK LAs, Barking, Havering & Redbridge NHS Trust and MOD. In 2017, Sean joined CPC Project Services LLP and is now a Programme and Project Management professional and member of Association of Project Management. He’s worked on assignments for c20 clients, e.g. Ofwat, Gambling Commission, National Museum Wales and Science & Technology Facilities Council. A published author, with “The phat Controller (A Leadership Handbook)”, Sean’s been working on a debut novel - phat Coffee - a contemporary drama set in local government. He’s had 100+ articles published in Insight & Benefit magazines and authored/tutored IRRV’S Management Diploma course for 7 years.

Damian Lewis, CTO, Team Netsol Ltd

Damian is the CTO of Team Netsol Ltd who provide the BECS online Revenues & Benefits platform. Damian has had an illustrious 34-year IT career which includes the first implementation of the CD-ROM for financial data in 1987, co-founding the UK’s second cybercafe in 1995, starting one of the UK’s first Web development companies, streaming Premier League football with EMAP Publishing over the Internet for the first time, tracking a round-the-world World Record attempt with Honda and IBM, demonstrating the world’s first networked touchscreen kiosks at the G8 in 1998 and leading as Technical Authority on Scotland’s 2011 Census. He is currently busy guiding the development of Netsol Connect, a next generation distributed platform for online service delivery.

Jim McCafferty, Project Manager, Richmondshire DC

Jim has served on the national council for over 10 years and is currently Education & Membership portfolio holder. He is a Past President of the IRRV and a member of the IRRV Benefits and Revenues Faculty Boards. Jim was also President of the IRRV Scottish Association.
Jim has lectured for the IRRV in both England and Scotland. He has been a speaker at many conferences and seminars in the UK and presented papers on local taxation in the USA and the Netherlands. Jim has also represented the IRRV in giving evidence to Scottish Government Committees and consultative bodies.
Jim has worked for a number of councils in England and Scotland and also for the Valuation Tribunal Service. Prior to becoming a consultant Jim worked for West Lothian Council as Revenues and Benefits Manager and latterly also as Corporate Procurement Manager. He was a member of the DAS Review Board. Jim has worked for a number of clients including Councils in England and Scotland, RSLs, IT Suppliers and the Scottish Government where he produced a report on Council Tax Reduction Reviews.
As Project Manager, Jim returned Revenues and Benefits and IT Services to in-house provision following the break–up of a shared service. He also took part in a feasibility study for a large Council bringing its Revenues service in house after a lengthy period of outsourcing. This gives him a rare insight into what can cause a shared service to fail and what you should do to protect against this.
Jim has also held an interim position as Revenues and Benefits Development Manager for BT Lancashire Services between December 2015 and December 2016. In 2017 he worked an assignment with Birmingham City Council supporting their management in the return of the Revenues Service to in-house provision. Following on from that he has held interim senior management roles at a number of councils including Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council and Melton Borough Council. He is currently Project Manager at Richmondshire District Council.

Forid Meah, Lead Consultant, Arum

Forid has almost 25 year’s experience in Local Government. He was a senior leader in two large unitary Councils leading innovation and improvement in service delivery. As a consultant, Forid has worked with Council’s in the UK and Australia helping them deliver better outcomes and improve value for money.

Art Mitchells-Urwin, Fraud/Debt Data Sharing Officer, Cabinet Office

Art has come to Cabinet Office from an academic background and with many years of experience in the Higher Education Sector. He utilises his research and stakeholder engagement skills to bring parties around the table and ensure that the DEA pilots produced meet the needs of all pilot parties while providing outcomes that can lead to important change for the debt and fraud sphere.

Louise Murphy, Senior Policy and Data Analyst, Policy in Practice

Louise is Policy in Practice’s product manager for our award winning Benefit and Budgeting Calculator, driving its continual development. She uses her policy knowledge to answer queries about benefits calculations from local authority, third sector and housing association clients and has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s The Fix to explore how services could be redesigned to best support people who are in debt. She has submitted written evidence on Universal Credit to Parliament and presented evidence on benefits take-up to the Scottish Social Security Committee.

Sarah Naylor, Sales Director, Dukes Bailiffs Limited

Sarah joined family business, Dukes Bailiffs Limited in 2015 after completing her Degree at Sheffield University achieving a 2.1 Honours in Law.
Working alongside peers and completing the IRRV tech qualification has enabled her to develop her knowledge on enforcement and local taxation, and her desire to learn has meant she is currently undertaking the IRRV Hons qualification to expand her knowledge further. Keen to be involved in driving the industry forward Sarah has climbed the ranks to become part of Dukes’ management board and also sits on the CIVEA executive committee.

Mike Neumann, Managing Director, ITS

More by luck than judgement, Mike trained as an investigator and ended up looking at organised fraud, a role that gave him opportunities to work with many government departments and police forces throughout the UK. After a spell on surveillance, he became a HOLMES system manager. Deciding investigation was the best job in the world, he decided to stay until he discovered training, which is often just as much fun and (normally) far less dangerous.
Now that ITS (where Mike is Managing Director, does the psychology training and some of the investigation training) is over eighteen (and officially grown up), he feels compelled to find new things to do. That includes the launch of a new eTraining website, making training work using Zoom, and NIOG – the National Investigation Officers’ Group. The biggest thing right now is the Socially Distanced Investigations training that ITS is delivering across the country (well, virtually…)

John O’Neill, Solution and Innovation Director, Liberata

As the Solution and Innovation Director for Liberata and with far too many years spent running, designing and transforming a range of central and local government services, John has spent the last ten years supporting Revenues and Benefits products and services delivered on behalf of over 150 local authorities.
Formerly the chair of the Cabinet Office’s Customer Insight Working Group, John is fascinated by data and how analytics can influence service design to maximise the benefits for customers and the organisations that serve them. He set up and is responsible for the Liberata service benchmarking programme which establishes the standards required for the delivery of client services.

Daniel Pearce, Director of Business Development, Telsolutions

With 27 years’ experience in designing and delivering services that simplify and automate business applications. Daniel has a background in producing innovative communications, techniques and strategies that reduce costs and improve productivity.
Our advanced services reduce the cost of customer engagement, promote self-serve freeing up resources. Recently Daniel has developed new services using artificial intelligence within Chatbots to reduce inbound call volumes, manage customer inquiries and identify vulnerable customers more effectively.

Russell Robinson, Principal Consultant and Digital Specialist, Arum

Russell has worked in digital collections for 20 years. He was a co-founder of Telrock, a company specialising in digital solutions. Before joining Arum, Russell was Managing Director of FICO Customer Communications Services for the EMEA region.

Simon Rosser, Head of Revenues, Benefits & Fraud, Reigate & Banstead C

Simon has worked at Reigate & Banstead Borough Council for over 25 years, initially working in Benefits and fraud investigations. Since 2012 Simon has run the Revenues, Benefits & Fraud service, and in 2015 embarked in a new direction by expanding the service to support other local authorities and housing providers under the Council’s commercial agenda. The service now has a portfolio of clients, providing help with debt recovery, business rates, fraud investigations and property inspections.

Nick Rowe, Head of Local Tax & Accounts Receiveable, Ealing LBC

Nick has worked in Local Government for over 30 years. Starting in 1986 in General Rates and progressing through Community Charge and Council Tax/NNDR. He was subsequently also involved in Benefits for the past 15 years. He has also worked in the private sector and during that time worked on a number of Revenues and Benefits sites. He is currently Head of Local Taxation and Accounts Receivable for the London Borough of Ealing. Nick is Chair of the London Revenues Group and he has also represented local authorities on a number of central government working parties and is an LGA advisor for Revenues. He has been a member of IRRV for a number of years, having originally studied for the technician exams back in 1991. He then progressed to corporate level in 2005. He is a former President of the IRRV London and Home Counties Association and a member of the IRRV Revenues Faculty Board. He has spoken at a number of conferences and presented training days for the IRRV. Nick has been on national council since 2011 and is the current Chair of Commercial Services.

Paul Sanderson, President, International Property Tax Institute (IPTI).

IPTI is an independent, not-for-profit organisation specialising in the use of property tax to support the provision of good quality local services. IPTI has a network of experts around the world who specialise in all aspects of property tax including policy, administration, management, valuation, assessment and collection. In addition, IPTI runs conferences, workshops, seminars and provides education courses to assist those dealing with property tax whether as taxpayers, professional advisors, assessors, collectors or academics.
Prior to becoming President of IPTI, Paul was the Director of Professional Services at the UK Valuation Office Agency (VOA) where he was responsible for providing professional advice and technical guidance across a wide range of valuation and property issues. The VOA is the largest valuation agency in the world with approximately 3,500 staff dealing with valuations of some 25 million properties.
Paul has also worked as a specialist consultant to both the World Bank and United Nations in providing professional advice to support various urban infrastructure and other property-related projects in developing countries.
Paul has over 45 years’ experience in property valuations for a variety of purposes and is a Past President of the Rating Surveyors’ Association (RSA), a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and a Fellow of the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation (IRRV).

Kevin Shaw, Senior Creditor Strategy Manager, Money & Pensions Service

The Money & Pensions Service (MaPS) is an arms-length body of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and was created under the Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018. Its broad strategic aims and remit is underpinned by the UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing. On 30 June 2021, MaPS launched its new consumer facing brand MoneyHelper which replaces its legacy brands of the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pensions Wise. MaPs is also the commissioner of government sponsored debt advice provision for England and has a statutory role to provide leadership and coordination for the debt advice sector.
Kevin leads on MaPS creditor strategy and policy and an objective to influence more consistent debt recovery practices and support for those in financial difficulty. He has previously worked for creditors in the financial services and utility sectors for over 20 years, and specialises in debt management operations, project management and strategic relationships with the debt advice sector. Kevin and his team have led the onboarding of creditor referral partners for the Money Adviser Network (MaPs PACE pilot).
Kevin is the author of the MaPs publications ‘Supportive Council Tax Recovery- a strategic guide for Local Authorities’(2018) and ‘Working collaboratively with debt advice agencies – a strategic toolkit for creditors’ (2017, updated 2021). He is a member of several government advisory boards for debt and a former Trustee of Citizens Advice Gateshead

Julie Smethurst, Client Partnership Manager, Dukes Bailiffs Limited

Julie joined Dukes Bailiffs Limited as Client Partnership Manager in January 2020. She is responsible for the ongoing development of client relationships.
As a specialist in the field of Local Authority Taxation, and the Government’s Debt Respite Scheme, Julie regularly provides bespoke training to Local Authorities across England and Wales, and most recently, led breathing space training for over 600 delegates.
Julie previously worked in the field of Local Authority Revenues for 28 years, starting her career at Oldham M.B.C in 1991 undertaking various posts before moving to Lancaster City Council as Local Taxation Manager in 2006. In 2010 she became Revenues Manager for Preston and Lancaster’s Shared Revenue and Benefits Service, successfully leading four teams over two sites through a great many changes and challenges.
Julie is a past President and Executive Committee member of the IRRV Lancashire and Cheshire Association. She continues to be an active member of the IRRV, speaking regularly at industry events and seminars.

Michael Sowerby, Head of Debt and Fraud Data Sharing, The Cabinet Office

Michael Sowerby had an expansive career with DWP prior to moving to the Cabinet Office. As Head of Debt and Fraud Data Sharing, he leads a small team promoting and facilitating the use of the Digital Economy Act (2017). Having worked with the DEA since it came into force, he has played a vital role in developing the legislation’s operational processes and products, the DEA Code of Practice and the scope of the pilots and pilot parties now using this legal gateway.

John Stalley, Senior Investigations Officer, Wealden DC

John has been with Wealden District Council as their Senior Investigations officer with the Audit and Investigations team for the past 11 years. His team of 5 work within the Wealden and Mid Sussex District Council areas. He is currently chair of the East Sussex Counter fraud hub and has sat on the cabinet Office trail blazing forum for apprenticeship to the Government Counter Fraud Profession.
For the last 18 months The Audit and Investigations teams have been working on the government business rate grant applications ensuring that all the claims are legitimate and eligible.
Prior to joining Wealden District Council in 2010 John had served 31 years with Sussex Police, 18 years within CID with investigations and Intelligence teams as an senior Investigator and supervisor.
John has over 40 years’ experience in investigations, fraud and corruption across the many sides of the industry

Kevin Stewart, Business Unit Leader Revenues and Benefits at Mid Sussex DC

Kevin served as the Institute’s National President for 2014/15, having been an IRRV Council Member from 2005 to 2011 and again from 2012. Previously he was Chair of the Institute’s Benefits and Welfare Reform Faculty Board and member of the Local Taxation and Revenues Faculty Board. Kevin has previously been Education Liaison Officer and President for East Midlands Association as well as a tutor and examiner for the Institute at Technician/Certificate level since 2001 and now also at Diploma Level.
Kevin has extensive experience during over 38 years in the public sector, being in senior management for nearly 27 years. Kevin currently works at Mid Sussex DC. Previously worked at a number of private sector companies, Wealden DC, Luton BC, Central Bedfordshire Council, Watford and Three Rivers Shared Service, and the Audit Commission. Before this, Kevin worked at Bedford BC, Amber Valley BC and Kings Lynn and West Norfolk BC.

Alan Sullivan, Management Consultant

Alan spent over 35 years working in the public sector in DWP, latterly working for 22 years with Local Authorities. Alan led and delivered key projects, notably responsible for setting up the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate in 1996 which successfully drove up performance of LAs in tackling Fraud and Error for over 10 years.
He delivered the Benefit cap in partnership with all 380 LAs and the LA IT suppliers, launching the project on time in April 2013. He was also instrumental for delivering the Housing Benefit Debt Service into 380 LAs, delivering this on time in April 2018. The service has received widespread acclaim from LAs, significantly increasing debt recovery in HB to unprecedented levels nearing 90% of in-year recovery Nationally.
Alan entered 2019 realising he needed a new challenge, so gave up the luxury of senior post in DWP to set up his own management consultancy venture. This included the development of a strategic partnership in Giblin and Sullivan Consultancy Services. Alan has already worked in a private capacity with a number of local authorities in driving through improvements in Revenues and Benefits Services and continues to promote and share good practice amongst his many existing Networks.

Hannah Sutcliffe, Virtual Rating Team Manager, Analyse Local.

Hannah has worked within the rating industry for eight years following the completion of her Law degree from the University of Sheffield. Her current position involves managing a team of graduate Rating Consultants in the recently established ‘Virtual Rates Manager’ department of Analyse LOCAL. Throughout the past 18 months they have facilitated the design, development and implementation of this innovative new branch of Inform CPI.
Prior to securing the position of Virtual Rating Team Manager, Hannah assisted with the creation and growth of their ‘Rateable Value Finder’ service. As an early member of the team, Hannah had the pleasure of playing an instrumental role in the progression of this industry-leading product. Hannah is currently studying for her IRRV qualification and is a member of the IRRV Lancashire and Cheshire Association.

Sam Tims, Senior Policy and Data Analyst, Policy in Practice

Sam Tims graduated from the University of Bath in 2018 with a Masters in Mathematics, and joined Policy in Practice the following year. He has worked on research projects including understanding the impact of Universal Credit on the council tax reduction scheme in Wales for the Welsh Government, and the impact of the Benefit Cap during Covid for the Greater London Authority. Sam oversees the accuracy and integrity of Policy in Practice’s research and data analytics.

Alistair Townsend, Director, Alistair Townsend Ltd

Alistair is a National Council member of the IRRV and Senior Vice President. He is currently Law and Research Portfolio Holder and Policy & Resources Committee member. He is also immediate Past President of the East Midlands Association and a former examiner in Council Tax Law.
He has worked within Local Taxation, Revenues and Benefits throughout his career, initially working for a couple of Nottinghamshire Councils and latterly as Head of Revenues & Benefits for Milton Keynes Council. Alistair originally joined Milton Keynes, working for Mouchel in a contracted out service, and then later managed the transfer of the Service to the Council, during which time he also became Deputy Partnership Director for a Council owned LLP. After leaving Milton Keynes, Alistair joined Marston as Group Client Services Director, where he managed the Client Services function for the whole range of Group companies. After some 28 years working in Revenues and Benefits on an employed basis, Alistair established his own business as a consultant specialising in Local Taxation, Revenues & Benefits and local authority debt collection. He provides services to both the public and private sector on areas such as:
• Specialist Local Taxation, Revenues & Benefits and Debt Collection advice and support.
• Interim Management solutions
• Restructure/reorganisation options appraisals, recommendations and implementation
• Project management
• Change management
• Business case development
• Local Taxation training
• Expert Witness services

Professor Tony Travers, Department of Government, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Tony Travers is Associate Dean of the School of Public Policy at the London School of Economics. He is also a professor in the LSE’s Government Department. His key research interests include public finance, local/ regional government and devolution.
In 2012-13 and again in 2016-17, he chaired the London Finance Commission and was a member of the City Growth Commission and also the Independent Commission on Local Government Finance in Wales. He co-chaired the King’s Commission on London. He is an advisor to the House of Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee. He is an Honorary Member of the Institute of Revenues, Rating & Valuation and also of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy. He has published books and book chapters on local government, devolution, cities and London.

Darren Walklate, Divisional Managing Director, Civica

A leader and systems thinker, with a passion for delighting customers through innovation and service excellence. As Divisional Managing Director for Civica, Darren’s role includes responsibility for several Revenues teams, ensuring he remains close to operational detail with a focus on optimising process, people and systems.
Darren initiated an RPA project in Melbourne as part of the Fines and Enforcement Partnership that Civica deliver for The State of Victoria which is saving circa $1.5m per annum. This experience in Australia helped shape his thinking on the benefits and difficulties of applying RPA technology to the challenges we face in Revenues.
This session will explore why RPA is still in its infancy in the Revenues space and provide some insight (hard won through experience) on how we could use Robots to administer and collect Local Taxation, freeing up highly experienced staff from tedious work to focus on higher added value activity.

Alex Worthington, Barrister, Greenhalgh Kerr

After completing a law degree at Queens’ College, Cambridge Alex went on to complete the Bar Professional Training Course in 2012-13. He then practiced as a self-employed advocate and attended hearings in the County Court, High Court and First Tier Tribunal. He attended in excess of 2500 hearings and gained a reputation for dealing with matters concerning insolvency and real property, before joining Greenhalgh Kerr in 2017.
Alex brings his advocacy experience to the NNDR team, where disputed liability order hearings in the Magistrates Court play an important part in challenging avoidance schemes. Alex is now employed as Counsel and practices in each of the firm’s core business areas; Local Government Finance, Asset Finance, Insolvency and Landlord & Tenant.

Matthew Whyatt, Director, ASW Solicitors

Matthew acts (and has acted) for numerous London Borough, Core City and Regional Local Authorities assisting them with the collection of unpaid business rates and contentious insolvency matters and notably worked in-house at a North-West Local Authority for 18 months. Matthew has been successful in recovering substantial sums owed to councils and has also recently succeeded in tackling ongoing, and abusive rates mitigation schemes aimed at ‘avoiding’ the accrual of NNDR (Hurstwood Properties (A) Ltd and others (Respondents) v Rossendale Borough Council and another [2021] UKSC 16). In addition, Matthew regularly assists Councils on suspected fraud and dishonesty claims pertaining to the evasion of NNDR.