A benefits backlog which left hundreds of people waiting at least three months for urgent cash help is emerging from its “darkest period”, it was claimed last night.

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Norwich City Council has been criticised for making life difficult for people by failing to deal with hundreds of new benefit claims within its target time of 21 days.

Figures analysing the time taken to process around 4,500 new claims between July and November show more than 1,500 were dealt with in 20 days, or 34pc. But 66pc took longer, with more than 500 taking 71 to 80 days and a similar number more than 90.

Lucy Galvin, Wensum Green Party councillor, told last night’s scrutiny committee meeting: “It’s four times longer than the target. The Citizens Advice Bureau told me of a few effects that has on people in Norwich. One person had to borrow from friends to pay rent for three months.

“One person built huge debts to the council as they had overpaid – they told the council of a change of circumstances six months before but they went on paying too much money.

“Another was told by council officers the only way to speed up their claim beyond waiting three months was to get served notice to quit through their landlord, which was a stressful thing to go through.”

Officials say they hope to reduce the wait before Christmas and be in a “good position” by next April. The latest data shows the average number of days to process a claim has fallen from 47 in September to 34.76 in November.

Councillors were also told the aim is to organise more face-to-face meetings with people needing support, to speed up claims.

Anton Bull, the council’s executive head of business relationship management, said: “We’ve been through our darkest period. The percentage of claims now dealt within 21 days is steadily increasing.

“We are well aware of the impact it has on people. If we can get the processes working and right first time, we can process half or a quarter of claims in one or two days.”

7 comments

  • Noah, wong end of stick pal, by my reading..giving the council cash, when benefit should've covered it.

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    nrg

    Friday, December 7, 2012

  • @nrg - it reads huge debt to the council - to me reads like council overpayment. In any event a poorly written article as usual.

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    Tudor Bushe

    Friday, December 7, 2012

  • Norwich city council, not fit to run a bath..simples!!! nuLabour boot 'em' out!!!!

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    nrg

    Friday, December 7, 2012

  • Here we are are nrg(Norton et al ). Just copy and paste the following then you won't have to engage your brain at all...here we go...." simples!!!!!! nulabour !!!!!????? nowt!!!!!! any old rubbish followed by a lot of !!!!!!! or ??????? etc etc etc.

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    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Friday, December 7, 2012

  • If someone is aware that benefits are being overpaid following a change in circumstance they need only put the overpayment aside until an adjustment is made.To say that they built huge amounts of debt is ridiculous - who compelled them to spend the overpayment?

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    Tudor Bushe

    Friday, December 7, 2012

  • Noah, specsavers awaits me thinks for your fine self...tis fresh claims I do believe...do agree with the poor standard of reporting nowadays, too many stuck behind machines and no hard-nosing footwork...another new normal.

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    nrg

    Friday, December 7, 2012

  • Good advice from Shelter http:england.shelter.org.ukget_advicehousing_benefit_and_local_housing_allowancehousing_benefit_problems_delays_and_appealshousing_benefit_delays

    Report this comment

    itsme73

    Friday, December 7, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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