People claiming benefits are having their paperwork dealt with more quickly by Haringey Council after it cleared a backlog of forms.

The council previously lost £1.4 million because there were too many mistakes in the housing benefit forms it had submitted to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

This was because forms were not being processed quickly enough, and in 2017-18 a major effort to clear a backlog of cases tipped the council over a government threshold for overpayments.

It meant the council could not claim back any housing benefit overpayments through a subsidy scheme run by the DWP.

But a report discussed by the corporate committee on Monday (December 2) shows the council has significantly improved its performance.

Change of circumstances forms are now being processed within eight days – down from more than 17 days in 2017-18.

New claims are dealt with in 18 days – down from more than 23 days in 2017-18.

The council has now “reduced the amount of outstanding work significantly in the last year”, according to a report.

Helen Hili, business support manager for revenue and benefits, told the meeting: “We have started this year in a much better financial position.

“We have made officers a bit more accountable for their work, so everyone has an area they are responsible for.

“It seems to be working very well, from the feedback.”

Leigh Lloyd-Thomas, partner at the council’s external auditor BDO, said the council was in “the best position we have seen in four years working for you”.

He said the local authority was currently well below the error threshold set by the DWP.