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Craig is a Customer Support Officer for Leicester City Council. He has worked as a Customer Support Officer for the local authority in Leicester for over ten years. He is responsible for various tasks, including recalculating Council Tax billing instalments, advising on the planning application process and reporting environmental health issues to the relevant departments.
How would you characterise your current work?
My role demands a vast spectrum of knowledge across numerous service areas that the local authority provides for the residents of the Leicester city area. This includes planning, environment and local taxation.
How do you feel about maths?
I have always enjoyed maths, particularly at secondary school (GCSE) level. I feel confident when having to make mathematical calculations and have always liked the fact that maths is so exact and precise!
What is it about your work that is mathematical?
The main areas in which my work is mathematical are in the revenues and benefits areas, namely Local Taxation and Housing Benefits. Within these service areas, people can apply for discounts, such as a 25% single person's discount for individuals who reside alone in a property. Other examples include Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support, which are also applied to those that are eligible. My job therefore requires the ability to work with numbers and percentages to ensure that applicants receive the discounts they are eligible for.
How do you use maths, calculation or numeracy in your work? What tools do you use to help you?
A basic, standard calculator is my most common tool when calculating a single person's discount on a Council Tax bill. You need to be numerate and know what maths to apply where in order to work out the correct percentage or number.
Conversely, I also need to be able to remove discounts and therefore add a certain percentage on to individuals’ Council Tax billing. The Housing Benefit calculations that I carry out are straight-forward within our remit. The more complex queries that are more means-tested are referred to specialist teams within the Housing Benefits team.
Occasionally I would use Excel in order to provide a list of residents that are receiving a single person's discount for their Council Tax billing for example.
Do you think maths is creative? If so, how?
Yes, I'd say that maths can be creative, particularly when displaying statistics in a graphical representation. In terms of how maths can be linked to other more traditionally-regarded creative subjects, there are definite parallels with Art, for instance. Both maths and art require the skill and ability to recognise patterns, shapes and symmetry.
Do you use or rely on any maths that you learnt in school?
Yes, I apply mental arithmetic where possible. As mentioned above, I often use and need to be able to work out percentages of things, such as the discounts that local residents can receive. I also use basic addition, subtraction and multiplication when working out charges for additional waste collections that are requested.
How would you change the school curriculum, if you had the chance? Why?
There are elements that should be added to the curriculum as they could benefit young people immensely. I would integrate more relevant calculations into the school curriculum, such as Tax and Pension calculations. I would attempt to make more of the curriculum as relevant as possible to everyday, practical calculations, which are needed in the real world.
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