Angus CouncilTel: 08452 777 778

Issued: 27 August 2004

£2.8m Gain From Benefit Checks

A recent review of the work of Angus Council's welfare rights team has shown that the team provides a good quality service to the citizens of Angus.

Social Work & Health convener Glennis Middleton commended the team's performance saying: "We know the team's record in maximising people's benefits is very good. They have increased the benefit gains realised by service users by 115% in the last 5 years and these gains currently stand at £2.8 million for 2003/2004, an increase of 14% from the previous year. So it is perhaps not surprising that customers are satisfied with the services provided.

"However the purpose of a best value review is to find out if we can improve our performance and make sure our services meet people's needs. Therefore in response to the consultation we have decided to restructure the service to provide easier access to welfare rights advice and also improve the efficiency of the service we offer to help people fill in forms."

The council's welfare rights service provides free, confidential, specialist welfare rights advice and education to individuals. The Best Value Management Review was carried out to look at how the service is being delivered and whether there was any scope for greater efficiency and effectiveness.

The review revealed a high level of customer satisfaction with the service, with 92% of those using it rating it as either very good or good - a 6% improvement on last year. 96% stated that the officer that dealt with their case was either very helpful of helpful - a 3% improvement on the previous year. Response times were also praised with 100% of service users reporting that in their opinion they were dealt with either promptly or reasonably soon.

In response to feedback from the consultation the Social Work & Health Committee (24 August) agreed to the relocation of part of the welfare rights team from Arbroath to Forfar and to the creation of three welfare rights assistants posts to replace the equivalent of 1.7 welfare rights officer posts, as posts become vacant.