Tuesday 18 December 2012

Capita Week - Day Two - Revenue & Benefits

Last week someone kindly sent me an email regarding the blog I posted about Revenue and Benefits (Revs/Bens) and  Corporate Anti Fraud Team (CAFT). Set out below is what they said.

At the moment Revs/Bens is 2nd in the league table in London for performance indicators - this is the means by which the Department of Work & Pensions  (DWP) record our performance i.e how quickly we assess new claims and change of circumstances. 

Now bear with me here. Our new claim Performance Indicator (P.I.) is currently about 12 days which is outstanding, despite being massively understaffed. This has been helped by the face to face process introduced where by appointments are made and claims assessed directly at the point of submission.  Giving a low P.I. 
Now our friends at Crapita have promised, and I believe this is in the contract, to deliver 10 day P.I's for new claims made. Now the point here is they cannot use face to face facilities based in Blackburn. The only way to achieve such a P.I is to totally disregard the verification process. We expect claims to be processed via the phone. i.e you phone up state your circumstances - the claim is assessed and you write for the verification afterwards.
Open to fraud?! 
I know the Corporate Anti Fraud Team (CAFT) are very concerned about a potential lack of verification and no signature on a declaration. It is impossible to achieve a 10 day P.I any other way from outside the borough unless Crapita simply don't care and have no intention of making good that promise of course! 
Loads of fraud is flagged up through local knowledge. We know the tenants / landlords who are repeat offenders and addresses in the borough with history. 
I thought this needed a bit more digging so I had look at other Councils where Capita operate revenues and benefits. I came across a number of issues in Sheffield with people complaining about how long it took for Capita to deal with housing benefit claims.

There were some very sad cases of delays and unhelpful call centre staff here. More worryingly and linked to the issue of fraud, I came across some statements (which may be false) that last year Capita moved staff dealing with fraud over to dealing with new claims. My view always has been that KPIs can be a blunt tool that unduly focus attention on specific outcomes at the expense of other equally as important deliverables. If the contractor is rewarded for meeting a new claims KPI but not measured on fraud there is inevitably a risk that priorities will be changed.

While I was having a look at Sheffield I also came across their annual complaints report which can be downloaded here.

Table 1a: Complaints recorded on Council’s complaints management system
Complaints Received
Children, Young People and Families (CYPF)
Deputy Chief Executive’s
Place (exc. Street Force)
Resources (exc. Capita Revenues and Benefits)
Capita Revenues and Benefits

While complaints generally fell by 20% between 2010/11 and 2011/12, complaints about Capita Revenue and Benefits remained high and made up 30% of all the complaints received by the Council.

Yet again I wonder if our Councillors actually bothered to do their own research, did they go and speak with Councillors in Sheffield about Capita's performance, did they look into the issues of whether KPIs artificially skew resource priorities. Given the importance of this contract, that the decisions they take could have a massive impact on the most vulnerable in our community and that cabinet members are rewarded handsomely for their role they should have done their due diligence. 

Do I think they have done it. NO!

BTW if Capita would care to comment on any of the points raised I would be more than happy to publish their response.

1 comment:

  1. Since Crapita performance is judged by average across multiple years, they can conveniently play this game of KPIs without being penalised. wankers.