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HOUSING BENEFIT ADMIN: GUIDE TO COUNCIL AND ADVICE CENTRE PARTNERSHIPS

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A new guide has been launched aimed at improving the quality of housing benefit administration through partnerships...
A new guide has been launched aimed at improving the quality of housing benefit administration through partnerships between local authorities and Citizens Advice Bureaux.

'Everyone benefits' has won the backing of work and pensions minister Malcolm Wicks. In his foreword to the guide he says:

'Local authorities and Citizens Advice Bureaux have different responsibilities, but better understanding, better communication and liaison can make both of your jobs easier and help ensure customers experience the quality housing benefit service we all want to see. I hope you will find both the new national performance standards and this guide useful tools to help you work together better.'

Camden LBC has been awarded beacon status for the performance of its housing benefit service. The new guide is based on existing arrangements between Camden Benefits Service and Camden CAB Service.

Lesley Pigott, head of Camden Benefits Service said:

'This guide is an excellent tool to promote agencies working together for the benefit of our mutual customers.'

Jonathan Merrison, director of Camden CABx said:

'We are lucky in Camden to have had a good working relationship with our local authority benefit service, who deliver good services and in general work well with the voluntary sector. We are pleased that they have been prepared to work on a model good practice agreement which hopefully will improve services and working relationships in other authorities.'

Everyone benefits, which has been drawn up by the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux (NACAB) in consultation with Camden CAB Service and Camden Benefits Service, sets out the key steps to establishing and developing liaison between local authority housing benefit services and Citizens Advice Bureaux.

It aims to promote good practice and facilitate continuous improvement in service delivery and accountability. Although developed with specific reference to Citizens Advice Bureaux, its principles can be equally well applied to other independent advice providers.

Areas covered by the guide include:

* Responsibilities of each agency

* Signposting sources of independent advice

* Communication arrangements for dealing with claims

* Liaison on policies and procedures

* Promotion and take-up

'Everyone benefits' has been distributed to all 410 local authorities and the network of 600 Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales.

Notes

1. 'Everyone benefits' is available from the Social Policy Department, NACAB, Myddelton House, 115-123 Pentonville Road, London N1 9LZ.

2.In the year 2000/2001 Citizens Advice Bureaux dealt with more than 225,000 housing benefit problems.

3. You can get more information on the CAB Service by visiting www.nacab.org.uk and you can get information on housing benefit on the CAB public information and advice website www.adviceguide.org.uk http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/nacab/plsql/nacab.homepage

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