Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

FIRST BENEFIT SERVICE TO BE JUDGED EXCELLENT

  • Comment
Bedford BC's benefit service is the first in the country to be judged 'excellent' by the government's Benefit Fraud...
Bedford BC's benefit service is the first in the country to be judged 'excellent' by the government's Benefit Fraud Inspectorate (BFI), following a full inspection.

Publishing its report today (see below) the Department of Work and Pensions says Bedford is 'the first authority to reach this standard as a result of a BFI inspection'.

And the council was praised for making drastic and sustained improvements to the time it takes to process claims, being hailed as an example to other councils by the BFI director Chris Bull who said: 'The report illustrates that clear leadership, staff involvement in agreeing goals and comprehensive planning and monitoring are the basic building blocks for success.'

BFI inspected the council's administration of housing benefit, council tax benefit and counter-fraud activities against national performance standards, including strategic management, customer services, claim processing, work with landlords, counter fraud, control of overpayments and internal security. It was this in-depth assessment which led to the BFI announcing that Bedford's benefit service is excellent.

Announcing the report, the DWP says: 'The report notes a great deal of commitment and professionalism in Bedford Borough Council and a determination throughout the organisation to maintain the high level of performance achieved.'

Shaun Field, Bedford BC chief executive, said: 'I'm delighted with this report which demonstrates that this council is providing services at the very highest standard for the people of this borough'. He praised staff involved in the benefits service saying, 'their commitment to achieving high targets has made this possible.'

BENEFIT FRAUD INSPECTORATE (BFI) REPORT: BEDFORD BOROUGH COUNCIL

Work and pensions secretary Alan Johnson today

published an inspection report by the BFI on the administration of

housing benefit and council tax benefit and counter-fraud activity by

Bedford BC. The council was performing at an excellent

standard and becomes the first authority to reach this standard as a

result of a BFI inspection.

BFI inspected the council against the performance standards, the

council was at standard for five functional areas - strategic

management, customer services, processing of claims, working with

landlords and counter-fraud and above standard for two functional

areas - overpayments and internal security.

Works and pensions minister Chris Pond said: 'I welcome BFI's report

as it records the outstanding effort made by Bedford Borough Council

to reach the department's standard by delivering a better service to

the customer.'

BFI director Chris Bull said:

'I was very pleased that we were

invited to inspect Bedford, as Shaun Field, the chief executive,

believed they were providing an excellent benefits Service. The

authority has made some drastic improvements to processing times very

quickly and these improvements have been sustained. I very much hope

that our report will prove helpful to other local authorities facing

difficult challenges. In addition to some new working practices, the

report illustrates that clear leadership, staff involvement in

agreeing goals and comprehensive planning and monitoring are the

basic building blocks for success.'

In 2003/04, Bedford BC administered some£37m in

housing benefits, about 52 per cent of its gross revenue expenditure.

BFI carried out the on-site phase of the inspection in September

2004.

The standard for processing new claims and changes of circumstances

is 36 and 9 days respectively. Bedford BC improved its

processing times for new claims and changes of circumstances from 68

and 18 days in March 2003 to 26 and 6 days in September 2003. This

was achieved by providing a clear commitment to reach and maintain

top quartile performance and the processing times have been

sustained.

The report notes a great deal of commitment and professionalism in

Bedford Borough Council and a determination throughout the

organisation to maintain the high level of performance achieved.

Notes

The process for the inspection at Bedford Borough Council included

an initial fact finding stage, an on-site visit, and production and

clearance of the report. The on-site visit took place during

September 2004.

The inspection report can be found on the BFI website.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.