Council’s Benefits Service commended for outstanding performance

People in the Highlands claiming Housing Benefit are receiving the best service provided by any local authority in Scotland.

This accolade for Highland Council will be presented to the Council’s Corporate Resources Committee on 28 February 2018 in a report highlighting the leading performance achieved for housing benefit recipients across the Highlands.

In a national report published by the Department for Work and Pensions for the second quarter of 2017/18 Highland Council is 1st in Scotland for the speed of administering new housing benefit claims and 1st equal for the speed of administering reported changes in their circumstances. 

Highland Council’s decentralised service delivery model for Revenues and Customer Services (which include Benefits Services) processed new housing benefit claims on average within 12 days and reported changes in circumstances in 4 days. This compares favourably with 21 days and 8 days, respectively, for Scotland.

Chair of the Council’s Corporate Resources Committee, Councillor Alister Mackinnon said: “This is a tremendous achievement. This top placing in Scotland has been achieved at the same time as our Benefits Service has reduced administration costs by 24% over a 3-year period during which processing times for new claims has reduced from 23 days down to 12 days, and change in circumstances from 6 days down to 4 days.

“A new structure, new approaches to service delivery, a radical review of business processes and resource management and the dedication of our hard working staff have contributed to such significant improvements for our customers. My thanks are extended to all staff for continually finding ways of improving this vital service.”

Highland Council Leader and Chair of the Poverty and Inequalities Working Group, Councillor Margaret Davidson endorsed this significant achievement. She said:

“The Council is committed to reducing poverty and is leaving no stone unturned. Promptly receiving the correct amount of housing benefit from the Council strengthens customers’ confidence in our services and is one less worry for hard pressed families who are constantly juggling their limited finances. These impressive performance times not only help to mitigate the impacts of Welfare Reform and the austerity measures that are presenting significant challenges for so many families across the Highlands and elsewhere, but also provide assurances for social landlords and those in the private sector who rely on prompt payments of housing benefit for their rental income.”

27 Feb 2018
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