“The report highlights some important learning for councils and government to take forward to improve fairness and accuracy within the benefits system."
Responding to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s report into councils’ administration of Housing Benefit, Chair of the LGA’s Resources Board, Cllr Richard Watts, said:
“The Ombudsman’s report has rightly identified the importance of ensuring the best possible accuracy within the housing benefit system, and ensuring that councils respond fairly and effectively when mistakes occur, including claimant error.
“The report highlights some important learning for councils and government to take forward to improve fairness and accuracy within the benefits system.
“Councils and the Department for Work and Pensions have worked closely over recent years to reduce fraud and error. Councils also work hard to provide a range of support and advice to vulnerable households, in particular those affected by welfare reform.
“The funding that councils receive from government to administer Housing Benefit falls short of the true costs of administration. Councils have also faced considerable and ongoing pressures and uncertainty due to welfare reforms and changes to the timescales for implementing Universal Credit, which have stretched councils’ revenues and benefits services.
“It is vital that the Government recognises the ongoing role of councils in administering Housing Benefit, and in supporting claimants provides appropriate, timely funding to councils to deliver this role. Doing so ensures that councils are able to provide the fairest, most accurate service that they can.”