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You are here: Home Page > Council and Democracy > Council News > Archived News > September 2010 > Are You Entitled to Benefits?

Are You Entitled to Benefits?

Wednesday 22nd September 2010

 

In order to ensure people are not missing out on claiming the benefits they are entitled to, one of Bedford Borough Council’s Scrutiny Committees is carrying out a major review of the Council’s Benefits Service.

 

The Council’s Environment, Regeneration and Corporate Services Policy Review and Development Committee regularly conduct examinations of various Council Services, as part of a typical ‘best practice’ procedure.

 

The benefits service involves giving advice to claimants, processing the claims, and making the regular payments, when a claim is successful.

 

The review will examine the current performance to establish whether it meets the needs of its customers. Many people could be unaware what they are entitled to and could be missing out as a result!

 

Cllr Colleen Atkins, portfolio holder for Housing, Planning and Benefits, at Bedford Borough Council, said: “I welcome this review because, as a Council, we are very keen to ensure that everybody who is entitled to benefits can claim them in full.  People need the help and assistance to claim and the team will do everything they can to help individuals become aware of what exactly is available.”

 

Cllr Sue Oliver, Chair of the Committee, said: “A key aspect of the analysis will be to examine barriers that may prevent residents claiming the benefits they are entitled to and how the Council can help to overcome them.  Outcomes from the review will help us nail down and deliver the best service we can to the public.”

 

The council is currently administering over 14,000 benefit claims. The effectiveness of measures in place to prevent fraud will also be examined.  Last year, the council imposed 63 sanctions for benefit fraud. In August of this year, the team had already imposed 60 sanctions.

 

This increase is believed to be linked to a number of procedures introduced this year, such as an increase in publicity to generate public awareness, the use of more sophisticated data matching techniques and an increase in the hours received by frontline officers on ‘how to spot benefit fraud’.

 

Have you had experience of dealing with our Benefits Service? If you have any experience, positive or negative, we would like to hear from you on 01234 228256

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