We helped the London Borough of Bexley achieve its fastest ever processing time of housing benefit new claims and changes of circumstances, outperforming national averages.

The background

We’ve been working in partnership with the London Borough of Bexley since 1996, delivering a range of revenues and benefits services on its behalf.

As with all councils, new claims for housing benefit, and changes of circumstance, can be a particular challenge as they require the claimant to provide a variety of evidence to support their claim. A lack of evidence, or a delay in sending it through, holds up the claim, prolonging the time a claimant has to wait to receive the financial help they desperately need. And, with change of circumstance processing, the longer it takes, the longer a claimant is either not receiving enough – or continues to receive too much, which will need to be paid back.

Our approach

During our partnership we’ve invested over £6.5m in new technology, which has reduced manual processing – and the processing time – by increasingly automating the service. And, through a series of digital initiatives, we’ve also redesigned the way the customer accesses housing benefits services.

A recent review of working practices identified an opportunity to further speed up the new claims / change of circumstance process. We altered our in-house system to allow our team to input claim requests, while still waiting for sufficient evidence. The claims are then already being processed while the customer gathers the further evidence required to support their claim. The customer can now also upload their evidence online, which makes the turnaround time even faster.

The impact

The faster processing time to deal with new housing benefits claims has been maintained for several years for Bexley. The current results for 2019/20 show a processing time of 10 days – a further improvement on the previous year by three days. New claims continue to be processed significantly below the national average of 22 days, securing  Bexley as the joint fastest London borough to process housing benefits. While the average time it takes to process a change in circumstances for 2019/20 is now just six days, again this is an ongoing improvement on the previous year by one day.

Mark Chapman, regional director, Capita local public services, said: “Our partnership with Bexley Council focuses on continuous improvement. By reviewing our current working practices, the new processes we have put in place have allowed our teams to further drive down housing benefits processing times. In putting the customer at the heart of our operation, we have supported the council in being one of the country’s top performers for housing benefits processing. Crucially, this is improving outcomes for residents by ensuring benefit claimants are receiving their correct housing benefit entitlements in a timely manner.”

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“To see continued improvements year on year since we have worked with Capita is really pleasing. These are the best ever processing rates for benefits which gives us the confidence we are serving those most vulnerable in our borough in the most efficient way, to best avoid any associated homelessness issues that can arise through delay of benefit payments.”

Mark Underwood, Head of Exchequer Services at London Borough of Bexley

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