Falkirk Council

Falkirk Council
Telephone: 01324 506070

The Benefits Service Mission Statement

Falkirk Council is committed to the delivery of an excellent and effective customer focused Benefits Service that complies with relevant legislation and best practice and effectively provides financial support to its citizens.

By doing so we play a critical role in increasing household incomes within our communities, this helps tackle poverty, disadvantage and discrimination – a key goal and priority of the Council as outlined in both our Strategic Community Plan – Moving Forward Together (PDF, 3.7MB)| and our Corporate Plan – One Council, One Plan (PDF, 770KB)|.

The Revenues and Benefit Division offers an integrated Housing Benefit (HB), Council Tax Reduction (CTR) and Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) service through our decentralised Area Office network.

Staff who deliver this integrated Benefits Service also deal with Council Tax, Rents and arrears. They are trained and skilled to provide a single point of contact on liability, benefits / financial support, help and advice and arrears management.

This holistic approach to the Services the Division provides helps us to ensure that our citizens receive all the help that they are entitled to at the first point of contact and that help is provided to those who are in need.

We strive to provide a service that:

  • Meets the needs of our customers and our communities.
  • Encourages effective partnership working.
  • Tackles disadvantage and discrimination.
  • Delivers high quality outcomes.
  • Provides value for money.

By ensuring that we:

Regularly review our HB/CTR take-up strategy to ensure it continues to effectively address the issues of poverty and inequality.

  • Develop and implement a Discretionary Housing Payment take-up strategy which:
    • maximises the use of available funds;
    • ensures support is targeted to the priority groups outlined in the Council's Discretionary Housing Payment Policy; and
    • effectively addresses the issues of poverty and inequality.
  • Provide easy to understand but comprehensive forms and letters with clear signposting, to reduce the need for customer contact.
  • Offer a home visiting service to customers who have difficulty getting to our offices on request, or if the personal circumstances they have declared make it appropriate to do so.
  • Effectively signpost our customers to other services and benefits where we identify that they need additional support.
  • Promote social inclusion through effective partnership working.
  • Reduce barriers to the accessibility of the Benefits Service by streamlining services and sharing information appropriately.
  • Have robust administrative procedures in place to action reported changes from customers or third parties promptly.
  • Process applications speedily and accurately.
  • Reduce overpayments.
  • Recover overpaid amounts fairly taking into account other financial problems in line with our Corporate Debt approach to recovery and the Council's Anti Poverty strategy.
  • Pay tenants promptly in accordance with best practice and government legislation.
  • Pay landlords promptly where it is appropriate to do so in accordance with best practice and government legislation.
  • Do not pay DHP when the budget / DWP threshold has been met.
  • Minimise fraud and error by securing the gateway to the claiming process effectively and by carrying out appropriate cross-checks during the life of a claim.
  • Provide a service that is accessible and supportive to all of our customers.
  • Have regard to the diverse needs, social welfare and human rights of our customers e.g. we provide a large print, Braille and Audio tape service on request and can arrange for the services of an interpreter where appropriate.
  • Listen to our customers and respond to feedback.
  • Contribute to the Council's housing strategy by:
    • Intervening early in partnership with Corporate and Neighbourhood Services to help citizens who are homeless to access the right financial support, help or advice that they need to enable them to retain / sustain their tenancies;
    • Intervening early to help citizens who live in the private sector to access the right financial help, support and advice to attain / sustain their tenancies making payment direct to the landlord where appropriate; 
    • Intervening early to help citizens who move into a council property to sustain their tenancies by carrying out joint sign-ups and effectively liaising through the life of a claim with our partners in Debt Management and Corporate and Neighbourhood Services to maximise take-up.
  • Contribute to the Council's Anti-Poverty Strategy by maximising household income for our citizens where appropriate to help tackle poverty, disadvantage and discrimination.
  • Encourage a strong, supportive culture of excellent performance amongst staff.

Speed of Processing

The Speed of Processing measures how quickly we process new claims and change events for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction. We report our performance monthly to both the Department for Work and Pensions and Scottish Government.

Our target for 2012/13 was 25 days for new claims and 12 days for change events. However due to the implementation of a new Document Management and Benefit System during 2012/13, this has been increased for 2013/14 to 40 days for new claims and 20 days for change events.

To see how we are doing visit our Finance Services performance information| page.

Consulting with Stakeholders

We want to provide all of our customers with an excellent service. We try to identify who our customers are and then consult them to see how we are doing.

You can view the results of our most recent survey here Finance Services: customer surveys|.

If you want to tell us where we are doing well or how we can improve our service to you, complete our comments form| and submit it online.

You can also complete a form at your local office or telephone us on 01324 506999.

Our Customer Charter and Service Standards outline our targets for Customer Service and the level of service you can expect to receive from our staff when contacting us either by phone, in writing, in person or when we visit you in your home.