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£33M INJECTION TO HELP COUNCILS SPEED-UP HOUSING BENEFIT CLAIMS

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Housing benefit minister Chris Pond has announced a cash injection of ...
Housing benefit minister Chris Pond has announced a cash injection of

£33m to help 212 local councils improve the way they

administer housing benefit.

Councils have been awarded a share of the Performance Standards Fund

of £200m over three years which is part of the biggest ever

investment in housing benefit since the scheme began in 1988. The

fund aims to help them bridge the gap between their current

performance and the standards set by the Department for Work and

Pensions.

Mr Pond said: 'I am pleased to announce

this substantial investment of £33m in the administration of housing

benefit which will target funds in a focused way. It shows our

commitment to working in partnership with local government to support

and improve their performance. In return, however, we expect real

improvements in the speed and accuracy of claims processing.'

The priority for the first batch of money is to improve the speed and

accuracy of processing claims and preventing and recovering

overpayments. The money will be used for:

Addressing staff shortages and funding the recruitment and training

of new assessment officers and initiatives to improve staff retention

such as flexible and home working.

New IT systems, such as document management and workflow and new

software for those with outdated software systems for handling

claims.

Authorities can either apply for the money individually or jointly

with a group of authorities.

Notes

The full set of tables is available here.

1. In April 2002 the department published a comprehensive set of

performance standards for housing benefit which set out clearly for

the first time the level of performance the department expects

authorities to achieve.

2. Applications for funding are evaluated according to criteria,

which include the strength of the business case, value for money, the

authorities current performance, and the proposed improvements in the

speed and accuracy of claims processing and/or prevention and

recovery of overpayments. The department may pay up to 100 per cent

of the costs for recruiting and training new staff and up to 66 per

cent of costs for other projects, where the project is dependent upon

additional funding from DWP to proceed.

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