Minister hails tax and benefits service

A government minister yesterday hailed a “flagship” council tax and benefits service as a blueprint for local authorities across the country.

A government minister yesterday hailed a "flagship" council-tax-and- benefits service as a blueprint for local authorities across the country.

For four years, the Anglia Revenues Partnership has helped improve services and cut costs for taxpayers as part of a unique collaboration between Breckland and Forest Heath district councils.

Communities and local government minister Phil Woolas visited part-nership headquarters in Thetford yesterday, which will welcome East Cambridgeshire District Council to its fold later this year.

Mr Woolas said: "It is unique to have a partnership between three councils across three counties, which has improved performance figures, efficiencies for the council tax payer and done so in the public sector. This partnership is a flag-ship for the rest of England. It takes 14 days to process a benefits claim here and there are some cities where you wait four months."

William Nunn, Breckland Council leader, said: "Customers are now served much more quickly and we have made huge savings which help us keep our council tax down to the lowest in the country."