Friday, 25 March 2011

Housing Benefits Standards Slipping - Worst in E. Midlands for New Claims

I have just found the most recent figures for Housing Benefits processing speeds on the DWP website. The numbers relate to Q2 2010/11, i.e. July-Aug 2010.

It's pretty poor news for NCC. They took an average of 37 days to process new claims for benefits over the quarter. This makes them joint worst performing (with Harborough) in the East Midlands. You probably won't see a NCC press release on that.

Worse still, this disguises serious in quarter deterioration in performance with monthly figures of 33days (July), 36 days (August) and 44 days (September).

They were better at processing changes in circumstances at an average of 14 days which is about mid table. The best for this was 3 days (Daventry) and the worst 27 days (Derby).

Compare these figures to Leicester City which took 19 days for new claims and 11 days for changes in circumstances, an awful lot better. LCC had an Audit Commission inspection in May 2009 and scored zero stars. Its average new claims time then was 37.5 days, hardly worse than Nottingham's is now. They were also criticised for not using their full allocation for Discretionary Housing Payments, something I've had a lot to say about in Nottingham.

This is relevant because NCC's benefits service hasn't had an inspection since at least 2007 because the Audit Commission sees them as 'low risk' due to their record of getting 4 star assessments, albeit after adjusting their service provision around the needs of the inspections.

All this comes after last year's revelations of serious processing accuracy problems and dodgy subsidy claims. On this basis if NCC was inspected tomorrow they would probably score one star at best.

No comments: