Are You Entitled to Benefits?
Wednesday 22nd September
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