Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Quick! Band Aid For the Housing Benefits Service!

Following my recent pieces on the decline and fall of NCC's Housing Benefits service (including the revelation that the most recent figures put them as second worst in the country for processing new claims), all of a sudden NCC goes galloping in with a 'solution'.

Yes they are running to a private sector agency to get a load of temporary staff. Apparently, £112k gets you 12 staff for 12 weeks, an equivalent cost of £40k/yr for each one. That will include employer's NI payments of course but you can bet it doesn't include any pension contributions like a directly employed staff member would be entitled to. I'd guess a directly employed Benefits Processing staff member would be on around £20k so actual cost of their employment would be around £26k. So in round numbers the agency staff are costing something like half as much again as a directly employed staff member.

Like I said before, they're just lurching from crisis to crisis.

In other Housing Benefits news, the ever generous government has been handing out cash to help councils 'ease the transition' of the HB cuts. This money is not designed to be paid out as, say, part of the DHP scheme but to be used for infrastructure to deal with the fallout.

Slightly chillingly, look at the first item the government suggests as an intended use of the money -

"For example, preventing homelessness, negotiating with landlords, supporting people who need to move, and giving money advice."

Hasn't the government been telling us that nobody will be made homeless by these cuts?

Nottingham is getting the princely sum of £57,992 for 2012. That's just over half what NCC are planning on frittering away fixing their current problems. Doesn't bode well.

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