HC Deb 06 November 2001 vol 374 cc190-1W
Mr. Willetts

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which of the specific directions issued to Northampton borough council on 21 August 2000 concerning the delivery and accuracy of housing benefit and council tax benefit payments was implemented by the deadline of 22 August; which directions were not met by this deadline; and what further action is to be taken against the council.[7903]

Malcolm Wicks

Northampton borough council attained, by the specified date, the standard set out in the directions relating to the examination of cases referred for fraud investigation. The council failed to attain the standards relating to the speed of processing claims and reported changes of circumstances, and to the correct classification of overpayments, by 22 August 2001.

The Department subsequently provided assistance from the housing benefit help team to work in partnership with the council to develop service improvement initiatives. Following assistance from the help team, the council has recently provided the Department with a report on the current situation, together with an action plan for improving its benefit administration. We are now considering what further action is necessary following study of the report and plan, and completion of the help team's work with the council.