Are Benefit claim forms returned to the customer?

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    :15: Here at Nottingham City we are undergoing a massive review of all working practices in Benefits and Council Tax. As the team responsible for the review move on they are in need of assistance with some issues and need information from other LA’s. The current question is – Are incomplete claims returned to the customer at any LA?
    Incomplete being if the benefit claim form itself is incomplete and/or the supporting evidence is missing so it cannot be assessed immediately. Appreciate any responses please. Thank you 😯


    No never, although back page may be reissued for a signature if claimant new to us and form unsigned.


    Circular G8/2007 paras 38-57 was basically a cease and desist order on this, warning of dire consequences for those authorities caught massaging their figures by use of this naughty practice. Might be worth pointing your review team in that direction if they want to know how the DWP would like us to deal with incomplete applications.


    We never return claim forms. If a form hasn’t been filled in correctly we print off a copy of the relevant page(s), write the ref no. at the top, and send them to the claimant to complete and return to us.


    spotted a related reply on another thread:

    Reply To: Procedures

    I found a Vanguard lean-systems thinking presentation on (via google) but there were no details on how they recommend incomplete applications are treated, nor how this fits with the DWP’s vision.


    we always send incomplete forms back if received postally – with letter telling customer what we still need to process claim. Date of claim = date postal app received and customer has a calendar month to resend in form with all evidence requested on the letter to get bens from date they sent in incomplete form

    if customer [i:f596910b74]calls in [/i:f596910b74]with incomplete form – we send em away with the form and a letter tellin em what we need, with all other details as above.

    date of claim has always been recorded as the date the form was received via post or date customer came in with incomplete app.

    Only exceptions to this in which we accept forms in absence of all info are where clts are vulnerable/mentally incapacitated or where primary benefits have been claimed and are being awaited


    The problem with this approach is that in G8 2007 the DWP identified it as “bad practice”, this might not in itself be too worrying to an LA, BUT, should any problems occur and the claimant go to the Ombudsman then the fact that they are following a procedure already found to be bad practice by the DWP would certainly result in a finding of mal-administration.

    This is exactly what happened with the “overpayment recovery before the 1 month to appeal is up” arrangements.


    DWP may deem it bad practice, however it is not unlawful – and speeding up the processing of claims by placing the onus on the customer to get it back to us with info needed so we can put their benefit on is, i consider, good practice. And as stated we dont do this for vulnerable etc customers

    I always deemed VF to be a colossal waste of money and bad practice and an ailing effort to get LAs to do what they should have been doing in the first place….i.e making sure we have proof of everything required to pay the claim BEFORE it is paid by using common sense rather than tick-box mentality and overkill

    and then it was abolished……….I rest my case


    No, it is not unlawful and, like you, I find there are quite a few occasions where I disagree with the DWP on what constitutes good or bad practice.

    In deciding if to adopt this practice or not, Nottingham just need to be aware of the possible implications.


    We are the same as earlier post from Karen T – we send back incomplete forms and now 7 out of 10 forms we get are complete – if someone comes to the counter with a claim form and they don’t have all the info we send them away with a letter requesting the info we need and the original application form. We will photocopy any original docs they bring in and verify them but we give them back to the customer to keep with the form.

    The claim date is recorded as we retain a copy of the letter given to the customer and a copy of the front page of the application form.

    We have seen fantastic results from this – no more pending files, no more information coming in in dribs and drabs and having to be linked to claims. The customers are now taking responsibility for their own claims.

    I can’t see why any authority wouldnt take this approach?

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