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The secretary of state for work and pensions, Alistair Darling has ...
The secretary of state for work and pensions, Alistair Darling has

today published a report by the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate (BFI) into

the administration of housing benefit and council tax benefit and

counter fraud activity by Haringey LBC.

In 1999/2000 the borough paid out£171.5m in benefits. This

was the fifth highest total in the UK and the highest in London.

An inspection, which took place at the end of last year, covered a

wide range of activity examining the procedures for Getting it Right,

Keeping it Right, Putting it Right and Making sure things work.

The Report of its findings indicates that Haringey has made

considerable improvements in many areas, particularly in re-designing

processes to improve performance. Quality improvements have been less

dramatic and the Report recommends that Haringey should now focus on

these areas to make further gains in the effectiveness and security

of its service.

The speed of processing new claims was found to be very good but

weaknesses in verifying evidence were identified and a similar

pattern was found with renewal claims. Haringey's counter-fraud

efforts are meeting with some success but further work is needed in

controlling and recovering over-payments. The borough had over£15m benefit over-payment debt which at the time of the

inspectors' visit was continuing to rise. There was evidence that

serious efforts were being made to recover this and the Report's

recommendations will strengthen these.

The BFI is an independent unit within the

department for work and pensions that reports directly to the

secretary of state for work and pensions on the standard of benefit

administration and counter fraud activity.

It works to help councils improve efficiency and deter, prevent,

detect and investigate fraud by strengthening the security of the

delivery of benefits. Its Report includes recommendations of good

practice and Haringey LBC will be able to make use

of these to address the weaknesses identified.

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