£33m to help 212 local councils improve the way they
administer housing benefit.
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
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software for those with outdated software systems for handling
Authorities can either apply for the money individually or jointly
with a group of authorities.
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.