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.