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The revenues and benefits service provided by Dartford BC is good but unlikely to improve, according to an independ...
The revenues and benefits service provided by Dartford BC is good but unlikely to improve, according to an independent report released today by the Audit Commission.

An inspection team gave the service two stars.

The revenues and benefits service administers and collects council tax, business rates and other money due to the council, for example community charge debts. It also administers housing benefit and council tax benefit claims and pays benefit to those who are entitled.

Peter Wylie, regional director, Southern Region Best Value Inspection Service, said:

'A good revenue and benefits service is being provided by Dartford BC. However, if long term improvement of the service is to be attained, attention needs to be focused on setting and implementing a strategic vision. We're suggesting the council seeks customer and stakeholder input into this whole process, so that an efficient and responsive service can be developed.'

Overall, the service is responsive to the needs of the community, evidenced through improved processes, meeting local targets, achievement of high customer satisfaction rates and staff commitment. However, inspectors found several weaknesses in the service:

- Revenues and benefits aims are clear but have not been reviewed since 1999

- Service aims are not publicised and are not linked directly to corporate aims and priority themes

- At the time of the inspection, arrangements for monitoring and reporting on progress of the improvement plan were unclear

To help the service improve, inspectors made a number of recommendations, including:

- Service users and stakeholders would benefit from being consulted on strategic issues and proposed improvements

- The service should arrange for information about its aims, objectives and targets to be more accessible to the public

The service employs the equivalent of 47 full time.

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