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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. Chris Pond): On behalf of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the BFI inspection report on Glasgow City Council was published today and copies of the report have been placed in the Library.
Following the housing Green Paper "Quality and Choice: A Decent Home for All", published in April 2000, the Department for Work and Pensions developed a performance framework for housing benefits. The performance standards allow local authorities to make a comprehensive self-assessment of whether they deliver benefit effectively and securely. They are the standards that the Department for Work and Pensions expects local authorities to aspire to and achieve in time.
This follow-up inspection assessed the council against the performance standards. While the council did not meet standard in any of the seven functional areas, the report concludes that it has made significant progress since the first inspection. Its overall level of performance was assessed as fair.
Customers received a good service in terms of caller facilities and the council had made significant improvements in the speed of processing claims. However it was failing to protect the gateway to benefits effectively due to inadequate verification of new claims and a lack of interventions after a benefit had been awarded.
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The council had taken a number of positive steps to improve the overpayment recovery process and while it had made a significant investment in resources for its benefit counter-fraud unit, there continued to be insufficient controls around the number and quality of investigations.