councils who pay out housing benefit within the national standard of
36 days. But he criticised those authorities that are still taking
too long to process claims.
For the first time over a third of councils are performing at or
beating the target for processing new claims according to quarterly
figures published today*.
The statistics show:
- The number of authorities meeting the national standard of 36 days
for processing new claims increased from 28 per cent in the first
quarter of 2002/03 to 34 per cent in the fourth quarter.
- The average number of days to process new claims reduced from 58
in the first quarter of 2002/3 to 53 days in the fourth quarter.
- Authorities in the worst quarter of performance currently take
between 59 and 143 days.
- The number of authorities meeting the standard of 9 days for
processing changes in circumstances has increased from 31 per cent in
the first quarter of 2002/03 to 41 per cent in the fourth quarter.
- The average number of days to process change of circumstances
reduced from 18 days in the first quarter of 2002/3 to 16 days in the
Mr Pond said: 'I am pleased that the number of councils meeting
the performance standard is increasing. This demonstrates that, where
an authority is determined, it is possible to improve their
performance and achieve the 36-day standard.
'These councils are making a significant contribution to tackling
poverty and providing opportunity. I am aware that many other
authorities are striving to improve, but I want to see all councils
with longer processing times putting their house in order.'
* The statistics are published on the Department for Work and Pensions
website, which can be found here.
1. These 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 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 authority's 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.
3. Benefit claims may be more numerous or more complicated in areas
- A high proportion of applications come 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
- More people are in shared accommodation.
4. The department is working with the councils with the longest
processing times to try and make sure they improve.