Council's benefits system back on track

By David LennardA NEW structure for dealing with housing and council tax benefits has been introduced by a council following a highly critical report from Government inspectors.

By David Lennard

A NEW structure for dealing with housing and council tax benefits has been introduced by a council following a highly critical report from Government inspectors.

Waveney District Council was also criticised over the way it tackled benefit fraud in a report published by the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate (BFI).

When a BFI team inspected the council for performance standards for housing benefits, it found the authority had not reached the required standard for any of the seven functional areas - strategic management, customer services, processing of claims, working with landlords, internal security, counter-fraud and overpayments.


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The council's level of performance for its administration of benefits and counter fraud activity was said to be “poor”, while the report also identified “many significant and serious failings”.

When the report was published last year, Waveney District Council chief executive Mairi Mclean promised its service to customers would improve.

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“By going through this rigorous process of external inspection we can be certain that our service to customers will improve and that we will now be able to target our resources more effectively in order to achieve this,” said Ms McLean.

The council announced yesterday that following the BFI inspection, a new structure for the benefits service had been devised and a new management team recruited to “drive forward” the process.

A spokesman added: “The new management team are currently changing working practices to make them more efficient and putting the final touches on a comprehensive training plan for all the staff in the service.”

Members of the council's executive have asked officers to identify the outstanding matters within the action plan that can be implemented within the shortest time frame, together with the staffing and funding required to complete them.

david.lennard@eadt.co.uk

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