A shake-up of benefit claims assessments will help to cut fraud and excess paperwork, according to Haringey Council

The council will start using computer software that will allow it to focus on council tax and housing benefit claims that have the highest risk of fraud or error.

It means officers will spend less time sending out unnecessary requests for evidence to back up people’s claims when they are deemed to be low risk.

The ‘risk-based verification’ system will also help to speed up the process for low-risk claimants, so they could get their benefits sooner.

It means the council will have to send out 6,000 fewer letters, while handling times will be reduced by around 1,578 hours.

The new system, which is used by the Government and 65 other local authorities across the country, was agreed by the council’s corporate committee on Thursday (July 25).

Councillors were also given an update on a benefit overpayments problem that led to Haringey Council losing out on £1.4 million in 2017-18.

Attempts to clear a backlog of forms caused by a staff shortage meant the council could not claim the money back from the Government because it breached an overpayments limit.

Leigh Lloyd-Thomas, the council’s external auditor, told councillors overpayments had been a problem for the council in the past, but it had made improvements and was on course to get all of its money back this year.