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LAMBETH MAY LOSE OUT OVER HOUSING BENEFIT ID FAILURES

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Lambeth LBC could lose up to£3m because it has failed to check the IDs of housing benefit claimants, reports the S...
Lambeth LBC could lose up to£3m because it has failed to check the IDs of housing benefit claimants, reports the South London Press (p4).

The sum could be docked from the authority's rebate, paid by the Department for Social Security, as it has failed to ensure all claimants are bona fide.

A council spokesman said Lambeth was making plans to cope with potential losses of£3m but added: 'That's not to say it [the council] is liable. It's not to say the losses are there.'

But he also said that it was likely an extra£500,000 would have to be spent on more management support for the housing benefit contractor Capita, via a joint management board.

But the housing benefit backlog has been steadily falling since the partnership board was set up to tackle the problem. Outstanding items now stand at 22,339, down from a high of nearly 55,000 in April. Complaints have also fallen.

Tom Franklin, the council's leader, said: 'The figures are still a long way from being acceptable, and improvements, although substantial, are proving to be challenging to maintain as we work our way through the hardcore of backlog cases. However, the council will not rest until we have the situation firmly under control.'

He also expressed concern about the complexity of administering housing benefit, which he says smothers councils in rep tape. In the past two years, Lambeth says it has had 169 circulars from the DSS on housing benefit alone.

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