Benefit service praised despite falling short
The first Benefit Fraud Inspectorate report of its kind has praised Rhondda Cynon Taf Council's housing benefit service despite its failure to meet a single performance standard.
The authority was the first to be assessed under a new system where councils are measured against seven performance standards: strategic management, customer services, claims processing, working with landlords, internal security, counter-fraud and overpayments (Inside Housing, 22 November).
The Department for Work and Pensions has not set a date by which standards must be met.
Inspectors said: ‘Although we found that Rhondda Cynon Taf had not reached standard in any of the seven performance standards, we did find a great deal of professionalism, enthusiasm and effort to improve the administration of housing benefit and council tax benefit.'
Inspectors praised claims verification and said they were ‘confident that Rhondda Cynon Taf will be able to build successfully on its achievements so far'.
But they found some customers were having difficulties contacting the benefit service by telephone. And the administration of overpayments needed improvement.
A Rhondda Cynon Taf Council spokesperson stressed that the performance standards were particularly high. Given that no time-scale for achieving them had yet been set, he said the council was ‘content' with the report.