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Watchdog praise for department

PUBLISHED: 11:06 23 June 2008 | UPDATED: 20:42 05 July 2010

A COUNCIL benefits service which was put on special monitoring measures four years ago because of severe delays in processing claims has now been praised by a government watchdog.

A COUNCIL benefits service which was put on special monitoring measures four years ago because of severe delays in processing claims has now been praised by a government watchdog.

Waveney District Council's benefits service was criticised in 2004 by the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate, now part of the Audit Commission, after it found that people trying to claim benefits were facing long delays in getting their money.

The council's benefits department was put on monitoring measures, meaning that it was regulated every month by the department of work and pensions. Now the service has turned its fortunes round and the Audit Commission has taken Waveney off the monitoring scheme.

In 2006/7 it took an average of 58 days to process a new claim for housing or council tax benefits and this has been reduced to just 28 days for 2007/8.

Bruce Provan, the council's portfolio holder for housing, said: “This is excellent news and provides official confirmation of what we already knew - that the council has turned round a poor service and is now delivering consistently well to its customers and communities.

“The problems were clear for all to see and yet benefits is now a Waveney success story.”

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