set by the Department for Work and Pensions according to new figures.
These figures show local authorities' performance for processing
The figures, which cover the second quarter of 2003/4 reveal:
- 127 (31 per cent) authorities reported meeting the 36-day standard
of processing new claims, compared with 117 (28 per cent)
authorities in the second quarter of 2002/3.
- The average reported number of days to process new claims reduced
from 58 days in the second quarter of 2002/3 to 50 days in the
second quarter of 2003/4.
- Authorities in the bottom 25 per cent of performance reported
processing times of between 56 and 149 days.
- 156 (38 per cent) authorities reported meeting the standard of
processing changes in circumstances, on average within 9 days,
compared to 139 (34 per cent) in the second quarter of 2002/3.
- 228 (56 per cent) authorities reported an improved performance
between the first and second quarters in processing new claims.
Housing benefit minister Chris Pond said:
'This is good news and I applaud those authorities that have secured
these improvements. However there are still too many authorities
taking too long to process claims. It is unacceptable that some
claimants could have their tenancy put at risk due to delays in
handling housing benefit claims.
'We are working with many of the poorest performing authorities with
the aim of bringing about the improved service local people have the
right to expect'.
1. The quarterly statistics are provided by local authorities
themselves and are un-audited. Local authorities can update their quarterly
statistics at any time so these statistics are subject to change.
Some Local Authorities did not return figures for all the quarters.
2. The Best Value Performance Ind icators for English authorities for
2002/3 are audited figures. Audited figures for Scotland and Wales
are not yet available.
3. The statistics cover the following areas of performance:
- average time for processing new claims: this indicator measures the
average processing time in calendar days across all new claims for
which the date of decision is within the quarter. The time for
each claim is measured from the date of receipt of the claim at any
of the local authorities' offices to the date a decision on the claim is made.
- average number of days for processing written changes of
- percentage of renewal claims processed on time
- percentage of cases calculated correctly. This indicator measures
the percentage of cases within a random sample for which the
calculation of benefit is found to be correct on the basis of the
information available to the decision
- percentage of new claims decided within 14 days of receipt of the
local authority receiving all necessary information
- percentage of new rent allowance claims paid where the first
payment is made on time
4. Benefit claims may be more numerous or more complicated in areas
- there is a high proportion of applications from people who live at
two or more addresses during the year
- there is a high proportion of applications from people in privately
rented accommodation, where the application process is more complex
- there are more people in shared accommodation
5. The department is working with a large proportion of the councils
with the longest processing times to try and ensure improvements are
COUNCILS IMPROVE PROCESS TIMES FOR HOUSING BENEFIT