Sharp increase in benefit claimants seeking help from Fenland Council

THERE has been a 27 per cent rise in the number of benefit claimants seeking help from Fenland District Council.

The figures were given to councillors at their meeting last Thursday when it was reported that at the end of January the average weekly figure was 84 compared to 66 a week a year ago.

“The council is still seeking higher numbers of customers applying for benefits,” said a report to councillors.

“Our standard for assessing new claims is 17 days and at the end of January we were working to an average of 20 days. At the same time our standard for actioning changes is 10 days and we are now at 11 for this.”

The council was told the performance “has been impacted” by the continued demand and the introduction of a new system by the Department of Works and Pensions.

However, when compared to other authorities, Fenland is still among the better performers. National statistics show that for the second quarter of the current financial year – July to September 2011 – councils were taking 24 days to assess new claims for benefits. Fenland, at 20 days, is better.